Why Diet is the #1 Strategy to prevent Cancer
Cancer, medically known as malignancy, is characterized by an abnormal growth of cells. There are over one hundred types of cancer, the most common one being breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma.
Without a doubt, genetic and environmental factors are well know factors that contribute to the development of cancer. Therefore, a healthy, balanced diet is the number 1 strategy to prevent any disease in general, and cancer in particular.
A healthy diet is essential for fighting cancer and its conventional treatments. As many as 40% of cancer patients have significant, unintended weight loss and serious nutritional deficiencies at the time of diagnosis. Thus, a good diet can help the body to better cope with treatment side effects, recover and heal faster and fight off infections by optimizing the immune system. A healthy diet also makes people feel more energized, stronger and healthier.
A large study conducted in the UK and published in the September 2010 issue of “European Journal of Cancer”, evaluated over 500,000 participants and the link between diet and cancer prevention. The researchers found that the risk of stomach cancer was decreased in those individuals who have high levels of vitamin C, some carotenoids, retinol (vitamin A) and tocopherol (vitamin E), high intake of cereal fiber and high adhesion to a Mediterranean diet, while red and processed meat were associated with increased risk. Increased consumption of dietary fiber, fish, calcium, and healthy levels of vitamin D were associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. On the other hand, red and processed meat intake, alcohol intake, body mass index (BMI) and abdominal obesity were associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. High intake of fruit and vegetables in current smokers offered some cancer protection because they were associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer. A higher risk of breast cancer was associated with high saturated fat intake and alcohol intake. In postmenopausal women, high body mass index correlated with an increased risk of breast cancer, while physical exercise was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Increased consumption of dairy protein and calcium from dairy products were found to be linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
A great example of a healthy, balanced diet is the Mediterranean diet which emphasizes the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Ideally these fresh fruits and vegetables should be one third to one half to the daily food intake. Healthy, wholesome grains, beans and nuts, healthy oils such as olive oil, white lean meat such as chicken and turkey as well as seafood and fish are all staples of the mediterranean diet. Salt is replaced as much as possible with herbs and spices. On the other hand, highly processed foods loaded with saturated fats, sugars and artificial preservatives are avoided. White carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc are all replaced with organic corn and wholesome grains.
In selected cases, such as cancer patients with significant weight loss and little appetite, the building-up diet is recommended because this diet is very high in energy and protein.