Preventing Cancer, The Nutrition and Lifestyle Way

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Preventing Cancer, The Nutrition and Lifestyle Way

Swetha Prasanna 01 Feb 2022

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the leading worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020. A Harvard study finds that 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women are affected by cancer. Thanks to the early screening techniques and advances in cancer treatment, the recovery rate is substantial. However, the necessity to be aware of its risk is imminent.

The potential factors for cancer can range from genetics to lifestyle. Early diagnostics and awareness about risk helps to mitigate the occurrence in cases where genetic probability is high. On the other hand, lifestyle changes help every individual in curbing the risk.

As we move along, let us gain insights about the lifestyle measures and nutrition that help lessen the cancer risk. 

The Relation between Lifestyle and Cancer

Sedentary lifestyle and harmful habits are the main culprits that trigger the risk of cancer. 

A combined report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) finds that sitting for prolonged hours and absence of physical activity increases the risk. 

A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) is the cornerstone for overall health, and more so to decrease cancer risk. A BMI between 18.5-25 is classified as normal, 25.1-29.9 overweight, and 30 or higher obese.

Additionally, persons with belly fat are more prone to the risk compared to those with fat around the hips. Abnormal weight gain in the young adults is another risk factor compared to the weight gain in older age groups.

A meta-analysis of 52 epidemiologic studies reveals that people who perform physical activity have lower risk of colon cancer. Physical activity that mitigates the risk of various cancers include exercising, performing household chores, and leisure-time activities such as walking, jogging, running, yoga, hiking, bicycling, and swimming.

Additionally, post-menopausal women that are active in physical activity have lesser risk of breast cancer than those who do not.

preventing cancer

Diet and Nutrition to beat Cancer

Studies indicate that a healthy diet help preventing cancer risk by 10-20%. Suggested dietary recommendations to lead a cancer-free life include certain foods to avoid and foods to include.

Foods to avoid

Alcohol

10grams of alcohol everyday can increase the risk of mouth, pharynx and larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectum, and breast by 4-25%. 

This indicates why avoiding beer, wine, liquors, or any other alcoholic drinks and sources is essential for keeping cancer at bay. 

The same applies for tobacco too; expert medical care providers suggest avoiding tobacco altogether to avoid various types of mouth, lung and throat related cancers.

Fast food: 

Harvard study stresses a “Western type” diet characterized by a high amount of added sugars, meat, and fat causes weight gain and obesity which are the roots of various cancers. 

The list of foods to avoid for preventing cancer, it suggests, include, sodas, high sugar foods, shakes, starches, burgers, fried chicken, and French fries.

Red meat: 

Consumption of red meat and processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Animal based fat is also a main source of saturated fats that are cancer stimulants. 

Limited consumption of lean meat, poultry and seafood is recommended to attain animal-based nutrition.

Foods to consume: 

A diet rich in vegetables and fruits is proven to help avoid the risk of cancer. Studies found that vegetarians are at less cancer risk compared to non-vegetarians. 

preventing cancer

Whole grains, pulses, cereals, non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and beans, is considered effective for stomach and oesophageal cancer. 

Besides protecting the intestinal lining, whole grains help to manage weight in a healthy way. Thus, they contribute to lessen the occurrence of obesity, which can trigger cancer.

Tomatoes, guava, and watermelon are rich in lycopene, a chemical that helps in preventing cancer.

Water plays an important role in flushing away toxins. Plenty of water intake can help boost immunity as well as in the absorption of nutrients in the body.

Additionally, a healthy diet for preventing cancer must include the following:

  • Brown rice 
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Raisins
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Apples 
  • Carrots 
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Berries
  • Mangoes
  • Apricots
  • Citrus fruits
  • Dry fruit
  • Prunes 
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Peas 
  • Flax seeds
  • Brussels sprouts

Spices such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry leaves are shown to protect us from free radicals that can trigger cancer.

Summing Up

Research about diet related cancer triggers are ongoing. Meanwhile, it is essential to follow an active lifestyle that includes adequate exercise, healthy diet and quality sleep for preventing cancer.

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