Sunday, May 20, 2012

Can Diet Prevent Cancer?

Dr. Hillary

Upon review of scientific evidence, an international panel of cancer experts suggested that cancer might be prevented in many cases by staying lean through diet and exercise.

The summary of the report (issued jointly by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research) outlined an evidence-based scientific statement about the role of nutrition regarding cancer prevention. The document entitled, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective includes information on how nutrition and physical activity affect our cancer risk.

One of the strongest conclusions drawn by the cancer team, in light of scientific evidence, was that being overweight or obese contributes to cancer risk. The risk is related to chronic inflammation that is present in overweight and obese people as a result of elevated levels of C-reactive protein and leptin. The team recommended that cancer prevention should start in early childhood.

The report made six major recommendations for cancer prevention:

1. Be as lean as possible within a normal range of body weight.
Ideally, body weight should be maintained at the lower end of the BMI range until age 21 years, and than stay within the normal range after that.

2. Be physically active daily.
Engage in moderate physical activity daily for one hour. Moderate physical activity means that you should breathe faster than normal and you might work up a sweat.

3. Limit high-caloric foods in your diet and avoid sugary drinks.
They provide too many calories and too little nutrients. Avoid fast food if possible! Substitute Starbuck’s coffee with a homemade brew. That way you’ll be in control of how much sugar goes into you beverage.

4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
Evidence shows that diets based on plants provide protection against cancer.

5. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
The report says that unprocessed animal foods consumed in moderation are nutritious and healthy. Intake of red meat should be limited to less than 18 ounces or 500 grams weekly. There is convincing evidence that processed meat and large consumption of red meat are causes of colorectal cancer. Processed meat is that which is preserved by smoking, curing, or salting. The panel cautioned against grilling and barbecuing meat or fish over a direct flame, as this process produces carcinogenic compounds in the food.

6. Limit salt intake.
The panel concluded that salt-preserved foods and foods containing large amount of salt (sodium chloride) are probably a cause of stomach cancer. Daily intake should be limited to less than 6 grams of salt (2.4 g sodium). This can be achieved by decreasing consumption of processed foods.

Dr. Hillary is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree in health promotion and risk reduction. She has worked with children for well over a decade, and answers online pediatric questions at Before she became a pediatric clinician, Dr. Hillary taught high school. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, and traveling.

No comments:

Post a Comment