An ounce of cancer prevention

I’ve written about nutrition and cancer prevention, but it’s been a while. It’s a subject that I’m very interested in, personally and otherwise, but nutrition plays a role in so many diseases…and it took a while for my acute care class to get around to cancer.
We had a great lecture yesterday from a local oncology dietitian, and part of the discussion was the set of 10 cancer prevention guidelines from the American Institute of Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. Which I will share with you right now!
  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  3. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (such as beans).
  5. Limit consumption of red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.*
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 a day for man, 1 a day for women.
  7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
  8. Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.**
  9. It’s best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months, and then add liquids and other foods.
  10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.
* To get more specific, the risk of cancer (mainly colorectal cancer) from red meat doesn’t increase until  we exceed 18 ounces a week. That’s six 3-ounce portions, or three 6-ounce portions, depending on your appetite. However, no amount of processed meat (salami, pastrami, ham, bacon, sausages, hot dogs) has been deemed safe: cancer risk increases with any portion.
**Research from the long-running Physicians Health Study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that men who took a daily multivitamin cut cancer risk by an average of 8 percent. However, 1 in 3 cancers (33 percent) are related to nutrition and lifestyle: poor diet, overweight/obesity and lack of physical activity. The 33 percent risk reduction you could get by living an overall healthy lifestyle looks a lot better than the 8 percent from popping a multivitamin.
Does anything look familiar about this list of recommendations? That’s right…they aren’t all that different from the recommendations for preventing type 2 diabetes or heart disease. And they are also in line with the type of lifestyle that can help you feel great, every day. I love it when everything comes together!
If you want to learn more…and I mean really learn more…you can download the WCRF/AIRC Second Expert Report. It’s a big, hulking PDF document, but you can download it for free after registering (also free). I haven’t looked at it for a while (I downloaded it a few years ago), but there is a wealth of interesting, solid information there.