What to eat to reduce the risk of getting cancer: doctor's advice - ForumDaily
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What to eat to reduce your risk of cancer: doctor's advice

Cancer has many risk factors. Some of these—such as gender, age, and family history—cannot be controlled. But others, such as diet, can be controlled, reports Fox News.

Photo: IStock

Plant foods, among other things, can minimize the risk of disease, an expert says.

Eating well has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, said Dr. Brian Slomovitz, director of gynecologic oncology and co-chair of the Cancer Research Committee at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida.

“First, we know that obesity rates are high and increasing—and it is a risk factor for many types of cancer,” he said. “A healthy, balanced diet will help reduce the incidence of cancer.”

A healthy diet can also reduce fatigue and promote increased physical activity, which can also help with prevention, the doctor added.

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Nicole Andrews, a registered dietitian and cancer nutrition specialist based in Kennewick, Washington, shared her recommendations for what to eat—and what to avoid—to reduce your risk of cancer.

Here are her six tips.

1. Discover the power of plant-based nutrition

When it comes to creating a lifestyle that reduces your risk of cancer, Andrews recommends making plant-based eating a central part of your diet.

“This means eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds,” she said. “These foods contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of developing various types of cancer.”

Andrews noted that in addition to reducing your risk of cancer, prioritizing plant-based foods also provides the nutrients your body needs for overall health.

“These dietary changes can have a positive, long-term impact on your long-term health, whether you're looking to prevent cancer or reduce your risk of recurrence if you're a cancer survivor,” she said.

According to Andrews, plant-based foods contain a range of health-promoting nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals (which fight oxidative stress and inflammation, both causes of cancer), and antioxidants (which prevent harmful damage to healthy tissue).

“These dietary components have protective effects by slowing the production of cancer cells through multiple mechanisms, such as apoptosis (death of unhealthy cells), DNA repair, hormonal regulation and inflammatory responses,” she said.

Dr. Amber Orman, a radiation oncologist and board-certified lifestyle medicine specialist at AdventHealth in Orlando, Florida, estimates that up to 40% of all cancers can be prevented by “a plant-based diet combined with other aspects of lifestyle: exercise, staying active, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, and maintaining a healthy body weight.”

“Some of the most powerful cancer-fighting foods include dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, beans including soy, berries, unpeeled apples, ginger, garlic, turmeric, ground flax and green tea with lemon,” Orman said.

“Also, look for locally grown, organic foods whenever possible,” she added.

You don't have to give up meat or be a vegan to reduce your risk of cancer, Andrews noted.

“A plant-based diet includes all foods except processed meats and alcoholic beverages,” she said. “It targets two-thirds of meals or snacks consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, legumes, nuts and/or seeds.”

“Then one-third of the meal should consist of dairy products, eggs, lean animal protein, healthy fats and a moderate amount of desserts,” she said.

The key, Andrews says, is to focus on adding more plant-based foods to all meals rather than focusing on what to cut out.

“Consider adding certain foods to enhance your enjoyment or reduce your risk,” she added.

Orman advises patients to think of animal products as “seasonings” while increasing their plant intake. “Most of my patients eat a diet that is at least 80 percent plant-based,” she said.

2. Place the right whites on your plate.

Choosing unprocessed meats and reducing red meat intake in favor of lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, seafood and plant proteins offers several cancer prevention benefits, Andrews says.

“These foods typically contain lower levels of saturated fat and heme iron, which are associated with an increased risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer,” she said. “Creating a cancer-preventive lifestyle doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Take small, manageable steps every day.”

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“Additionally, white meat and fish tend to be leaner, which helps maintain a healthy weight, which is critical for reducing the risk of certain types of cancer,” she continued. “These changes may reduce exposure to potentially carcinogenic compounds and improve overall health, helping to reduce the risk of cancer.”

Andrews recommends including the following nutritious protein options:

  • Meat, poultry and eggs: lean cuts of beef, lamb, goat, pork loin, skinless chicken and turkey, quail, duck, eggs.
  • Fish and seafood: salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp, mackerel, lobster, catfish and crab.
  • Low-fat dairy products: yogurt, milk, cheese and cottage cheese.
  • Legumes: beans, peas, lentils and soybeans.

3. Choose the right whole grains

Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa and oats are rich in fiber, which aids digestion and helps maintain a healthy weight—a key factor in cancer prevention.

“These grains also contain essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fight inflammation and oxidative stress, which are linked to cancer,” Andrews said. “Additionally, the fiber in whole grains may help regulate blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer.”

By choosing whole grains over refined grains, you can provide your body with an array of nutrients and protective compounds that can help reduce your risk of cancer and improve your overall health, Andrews says.

4. Provide Adequate Fiber

As part of a diet to reduce your risk of cancer, Andrews recommends aiming for 30 grams of fiber daily:

  • Start your day with a high-fiber breakfast cereal or oatmeal.
  • Replace white rice and pasta with whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat pasta.
  • Add legumes such as beans and lentils to soups, stews and salads.
  • Snack on fruits, vegetables and nuts instead of processed snacks.
  • Include a variety of high-fiber foods in your diet, including artichokes, chia seeds, split peas, avocado, quinoa, raspberries, pears and barley.

“Including these fiber-rich foods in your diet can significantly increase your daily fiber intake and help reduce your risk of cancer,” Andrews said.

5. Healthy Hydration

Alcohol consumption is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing various types of cancer, including oral, throat, esophageal, liver, breast and colorectal cancers.

“Alcohol can damage DNA, promote inflammation and impair the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients, all of which contribute to carcinogenesis,” the expert said.

To reduce this risk and prioritize a healthier lifestyle, Andrews recommends replacing alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic alternatives.

Here are seven drink ideas:

  • Sparkling water infused with citrus or herbs.
  • Herbal teas such as chamomile or mint.
  • Fresh fruit smoothies.
  • Cold green tea lemonade.
  • Coconut water.
  • Unsweetened iced tea with lemon.
  • Homemade fruit water.

“These options not only quench your thirst, but also provide hydration and essential nutrients without the potential cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption,” Andrews said.

6. Reducing sodium intake reduces the risk of stomach cancer

Reducing your daily sodium intake to no more than 2400 mg is critical to reducing your risk of stomach cancer, Andrews said.

“Excessive sodium intake can damage the lining of the stomach and increase the likelihood of developing stomach cancer,” she said.
To achieve this goal, she offers three practical tips:

  • Read food labels carefully and choose foods labeled “low sodium” or “no added salt.”
  • Limit processed and packaged foods, which are often high in sodium, and choose fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
  • Use herbs, spices and natural flavor enhancers such as garlic, lemon and vinegar to season dishes instead of salt.

"By adopting these strategies, you can significantly reduce your daily sodium intake and take important steps to reduce your risk of stomach cancer," Andrews said.

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The key, she says, is to gradually introduce healthier eating habits, which will lead to lasting results that you can more easily integrate into your daily life.

When deciding which diet is best, it is important to choose one that is not only healthy, but that you can follow for a long time.

For example, switching to a plant-based diet has its benefits, but some people may find it difficult to follow.

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