According to nutrition research scientists and the American Cancer Society, a substantial percentage of newly diagnosed cancer cases could have been prevented with proper attention to food choices and living a more physically active lifestyle. Guidelines set forth by the American Cancer Society for cancer prevention encourage maintaining a healthy weight, consuming 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, limiting intake of alcohol, tobacco products, red meat, processed meats, and refined grains should considerably reduce an individual’s risk of becoming a cancer victim. The information presented in this blog will discuss some of the American Cancer Society’s recommendations.
The predisposition of overweight and obese individuals to cancer is due to alterations in metabolism that effect hormones, immune functioning and inflammation. Levels of obesity have stabilized in women and youth but are on the rise for adult men. Increasing physical activity and limiting caloric intake are encouraged to help with weight loss efforts and chronic disease prevention, including cancer. For adults, it is recommended that they partake in 150 minutes of moderate activity (examples given are: mowing the lawn, walking, dancing) or 75 minutes of intense activity (examples include jogging, martial arts, soccer) a week. Children are encouraged to partake in at least 1 hour of activity each day. Three days out of the week should be allocated for more intense physical activity for these youth. Exceeding these recommendations for all groups could be even more beneficial to health and well being. A 50 to 100 calorie a day reduction of intake from foods should prevent weight gain according the American Cancer Society.
Decreasing caloric intake and making an emphasis to eat more plant based foods can help reduce risk of cancer. High fat and sugary foods/beverages should be minimized. Consumers should be aware that just because a food product is labeled as, “nonfat” or “low in fat,” does not assure that the item is low in calories. Increasing fiber through consumption of whole grain bread, pasta and cereal products is encouraged. Additionally, red meat and processed meat products should be limited because of their association with mutagens and carcinogens. In preparing meat, poultry, and fish meals cooking methods such as frying and charbroiling should be avoided. Instead, it is advised that you bake, broil or poach these food products to limit exposure to mutagens and carcinogens like nitrosamines and heterocyclic amines. Processed meats have a stronger correlation to disease risk. These meats are preserved in using nitrates which can lead to disease causing mutations. There is an established link between alcohol and certain cancers and therefore it is advised that men drink no more than 2 drinks a day and women drink no more than 1 drink a day to minimize the risk. If you do not already drink, it is advised that continue to abstain. One alcoholic beverage serving is equivalent to 12oz. of beer, 5oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80 proof distilled spirits.
Food contaminants can unintentionally affect our food supply that can indirectly or directly make metabolic alterations that may result in cancer. Some of these include antibiotics or hormones injected into animals, bisphenol A or phthalates that are found in packaging, heavy metals and a fungal toxin called aflatoxin produced by Aspergillus flavus. It is also unclear whether or not organic foods are effective in decreasing cancer risk. For now, the American Cancer Society feels that the evidence is inconclusive and that food recommendations are effective if followed using either organic or conventional food products.