Understanding the Diet Cancer Connection

Many factors influence the development of cancer: During the last 20 years, science has shown that diet is one of them. By following a healthy diet and staying physically active, we can boost our own body's capacity to resist cancer

Study after study shows that a healthful diet - one high in a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, and low in fat - can fight cancer at several stages. Scientists have known for some time that these foods contain nutrients that help defend the body against disease. And now research is revealing that the vitamins, minerals and other protective substances within these foods can do more than this - much more.

Scientists are now identifying a host of naturally occurring compounds in plant foods that can actually defuse potential carcinogens. Some of these nutrients and natural phytochemicals seek out dangerous substances and usher them from the body before they can cause the kind of cellular damage that may lead to cancer. Others make it easier for the body to make cellular repairs, and still others may help starve new cancer cells before they can reproduce.

Even after a cell begins to become cancerous, diet and lifestyle can still help short-circuit the process. Several nutrients have been shown to delay the progression of cancers from one stage to another; this gives the body more time to defend itself. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise also helps establish a bodily environment that discourages cancer growth.

Scientists have only just begun to investigate how the benefits of a healthy diet may impact cancer survivors. In the meantime, it makes sense to follow a few simple dietary guidelines that can help prevent cancer and possibly guard against its return.

By following a healthy diet and staying physically active, we can boost our own body's capacity to resist cancer.

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