HEALTHY HINTS TO PREVENT CANCER

 

CONTRIBUTED BY COURTNEY VICKERY, MS, RD, LD
ST. MARY’S WELLNESS CENTER: NUTRITION SERVICES

• Weight control, dietary choices, and level of physical activity are considered the most important modifiable risk factors for cancer
• Over one third of cancer deaths in the U.S. are thought  to be attributed to diet and physical activity
• Risk of cancer recurrence is higher in those who are considered overweight or obese
• Eat a variety of healthful foods, with an emphasis on plant sources of protein.
• Choose 5 or more servings of fruits and veggies (especially yellow and dark-green leafy sources).
• Choose whole grains and other high-fiber foods.
• Limit red meat and whole egg consumption.
• Decrease your intake of unhealthy saturated fat (found in animal and dairy products) and trans fat (found in processed foods as a result of hydrogenation). Replace them with monounsaturated fats (found in olives and nuts) and polyunsaturated fats (found in fish, corn, and soy).
• Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fishes such as salmon and mackerel, may reduce cancer risk.
• Bake or broil foods
• Choose low-fat milk and dairy products.
• Be active! Exercising at least 5 times a week for 30 minutes or more can decrease cancer risk.
• Maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
• Balance calorie intake with physical activity.
• If overweight, consider meeting with a registered dietitian.
• Alcohol is an established risk factor for breast cancer. There is a 10-12% higher risk of female breast cancer associated with each alcoholic drink per day
• If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit to no more than 2 drinks for men; 1 drink for women. One drink is the equivalent of 12 ounces beer, 1 ounce spirits, or 4 ounces wine.
• Consuming higher amounts of calories from alcohol can lead to higher energy intakes and higher body weights
• The American Heart Association states that adult nondrinkers should not begin consuming alcoholic beverages because they can reduce their risk of heart disease through other methods
• The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week
• Moderate to vigorous physical activity has been associated with decreased risk of breast cancer by decreasing the risk by almost 25% when compared to women who are less active
• Antioxidants, which are found in fruits and vegetables and include vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids and other phytochemicals, are often associated with decreased breast cancer risk due to their protection against tissue damage caused by oxidation
• Antioxidant supplements alone have not been found to decrease the risk of cancer. The combination of antioxidants, fiber and overall healthy lifestyle involved with increased fruit and vegetable intakes have a greater effect on the decreased risk of cancer.
• Whole foods are your best bet for reducing your risk of cancer, not supplements. Research suggests the synergy between nutrients found naturally in foods offers a protective effect. The best sources of nutrients for cancer prevention are nutrient-rich whole foods and healthful beverages.
• Maintaining a healthy weight is key to reducing your risk of cancer and other diseases. The connection between cancer and obesity varies widely for different cancer types, but is as high as 40 percent for some cancers, particularly breast, colon and endometrial cancers.
• Eat fewer foods that are high in calories and fat and low in nutrients. Foods with added sugars and fats can cause weight gain and leave little room for more healthy, cancer-preventing foods.
• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables which are linked with a lower risk of certain cancers. Fill half your plate each meal with a variety of colorful and naturally nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.
• Limit alcohol. Evidence suggests all types of alcoholic drinks may increase your risk of a number of cancers, including mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophageal, liver, breast, colon and rectal. It’s unclear exactly how alcohol affects cancer risk. It is considered more harmful when combined with smoking. If you drink at all, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one drink daily for women and two for men.