Diet Cancer

Different dietary factors have been identified as either promoters (encouraging cancer growth) or inhibitors (discouraging cancer growth).

Dietary substances that promote cancer and should be avoided1,3

High intake of fat, especially saturated fatfrom meat products

Burned or darkly browned foods, such as heavily roasted or barbecued meats Nitrites and nitrates (food preservatives used to give processed meats a pink color) Pesticides and other agrochemicals Regular heavy alcohol intake Processed meats (such as sausages, luncheon meats, smoked, pickled, or salt-cured meats) Rancid (oxidized) fats, such as fat used repeatedly for deep-fatfrying Old, mouldy foods; particularly potatoes, peanuts, mushrooms, sprouts Artificial food dyes Heavily chlorinated drinking water

Cell division is normally carefully controlled, but in cancer a cell breaks free from normal regulation and begins dividing out of control. Many cancers begin when the DNA of the cell is damaged by a carcinogen. About one in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime. A major factor contributing to the high rates of cancer in the industrialized countries is the combination of increased exposure to carcinogens - enviromental chemicals, air pollution, food additives, cigarette smoke, radiation - together with a highly processed diet high in fat and low in protective micronutrients. Dietary factors, as initiators or promoters of cancer, are estimated to play a role in about 50% of all cases.1 With healthy dietary choices and prudent micronutrient supplementation, risk of cancer can be reduced significantly (see Fig. 5.20).2

Dietary substances that reduce risk of cancer and should be eaten regularly1,2,4

  • Fiber-rich foods (whole grains, bran, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds)
  • Dark-green and yellow-orange vegetables
  • quot;Cruciferous" vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Fresh beet, carrot, asparagus, and cabbage juices
  • Onions and garlic
  • Calcium-rich foods (see Fig. 5.21)
  • Fresh fruit and fruit juices

Maintaining a reasonable body weight is important: obesity increases risk of cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, and uterus.

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