Food


Foods that may
Prevent Cancer
 


10 November 2021
 

In most instances when a person gets cancer it is unfortunately down to genetics or reasons science does not yet fully understand. But, scientists believe between 30-50% of cancers could be prevented by avoiding certain risk factors. Most of us are aware of the dangers of tobacco use and cancer but may not be as aware of the role our food can play in reducing cancer risk. 

Eating well and maintaining a healthy body weight plays an important role in lowering the risk of kidney, stomach, breast and colon cancer that have all been linked to obesity. 

 

How should I eat to lower my risk of cancer?

So far science has shown that taking some easy steps to improve your diet can really make a difference:

Try to eat as much fresh food as you can. An easy way to ensure you get enough variety is to aim to eat 3 colours of fruit and vegetables a day. There are different active ingredients in the pigment that are thought to contribute to cancer prevention
this includes whole grain cereals, beans and vegetables. High-fibre diets have been linked to reduced risk of colon cancer.
scientific studies are showing societies that have higher levels of the saturated fat in their diet, have higher rates of cancer. Saturated fat, found in meat and dairy products have been shown to increase people’s risk of colorectal cancers. 

Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the world. Scientists are increasingly seeing a link between salt intake and this cancer diagnosis. Research is showing people who eat more foods preserved using salt, the more likely they are to be diagnosed with this cancer that has few symptoms and no effective screening test.  

These are general ways to improve your diet so you are giving yourself the best opportunity of avoiding a cancer diagnosis. But what about the specifics?

Have you heard of superfoods? Specific foods that are sometimes lauded as a way to prevent cancer. Often broccoli, blueberries and fish are often included in these lists. While it is true a healthy, balanced diet including these foods, and many others can reduce cancer risk, it is unlikely any specific food will have any impact on its own. 

A number of other specific foods are sometimes said to reduce cancer risk. These include:

  • Green tea
  • Soy
  • Tomatoes

Studies of these and many other specific foods have not shown a particular link to or increased cancer diagnosis. 

Similarly specific types of food like:

  • Burnt food
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Sugar

Are sometimes said to ‘cause cancer’. There is no scientific research to back this up, all research indicates they are not linked. 

The only type of food that has been shown to increase cancer risk are processed meats like ham, bacon, salami and sausages have been linked to increases in bowel cancer. Fresh white meat like chicken and fish are not linked to cancer. 

Humans are complex and most of us consume such a variety of food and liquid that create interactions making the impact of any specific food difficult to study. It is safe to say there are no specific foods that may prevent cancer, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy body weight decreases risk. So, it turns out we are what we eat, in more ways than one. 


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