How to Fight Cancer: Eleven Ways to Avoid Cancer
by Dr. Nancy Tice
Any one of us could be just a doctor's visit away from cancer. It's a scary thought. But the sinister prevalence of this disease -- and our inability to find a foolproof way to escape it -- is tough to deny. Nonetheless, we can decrease our cancer risk. Studies repeatedly confirm the strong link between cancer risk and diet. In fact, medical experts now believe that up to 30 percent of all cancers in the developed world could be avoided by better nutrition.
Although there's no magic diet to prevent or cure cancer, doctors now believe there is a healthy way of eating that may help prevent some types of the disease. It's thought that about one in three cancers may somehow be affected by what we eat.
In recent years there has been a lot of research into food and cancer and one of the main messages has been that people who eat plenty of vegetables and fruit are less likely to get certain cancers such as cancer of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, windpipe, mouth, stomach, bladder, pancreas and ovary.
Australian scientists, for instance, have found that women who eat plenty of fiber in their diet are less likely to develop breast cancer than women who eat very little fiber.
People who eat a vegetarian diet also tend to have less cancer than other people. This doesn't mean we should avoid meat -- small amounts of lean meat can be part of a healthy diet. But it could be that vegetarians' high intake of vegetables and fruit helps protect them from disease.
Keeping to a healthy weight may also help because being overweight may increase the risk of some cancers such as cancer of the breast, cancer of the lining of the uterus, as well as colon cancer. Eating a lot of fatty foods may also contribute to colon cancer, as well as prostate cancer in men.
So, what can you do to help yourself fight cancer?
- Exercise! Physical activity lowers breast cancer risk but no one is quite sure why.
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods. The reason for this is that nutritionists believe our bodies may need many different substances from different foods to help us fight cancer. Eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.
- Avoid being overweight by combining a healthy meal plan with regular exercise. Reduce fat in the diet by eating fish, as well as chicken without skin and lean meat. Eat less fried foods, fatty takeaways, sausages, salamis, pies and pastries. Keep fatty snacks such as potato chips, sweet biscuits, rich cakes and fatty deserts for special treats only -- not as everyday snacks.
- Fat -- some evidence indicates that diets high in fat may increase the risk of cancers of the colon, breast, prostate and the lining of the uterus. Diets low in fat may reduce these risks while they help to control weight and also reduce risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Use small amounts of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated spreads (made from canola or sunflower oil, for instance) and mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated oils (such as olive, canola, peanut or safflower oil) for cooking.
- Use reduced fat and low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese for adults and children from school age onwards. Give regular milk and yogurt to pre-school children.
- Try and avoid too many highly salted foods such as pickled and smoked foods -- these may increase the risk of some types of cancer.
- Drink alcohol moderately (no more than four standard drinks a day for men, no more than two standard drinks a day for women, and have at least two alcohol-free days each week). Alcohol may increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, windpipe, throat and liver. Smoking and drinking together can increase the risk of cancer.
- Meats provide necessary protein, vitamins and minerals, especially iron and zinc. These nutrients are important components of a balanced diet to promote good health. Choose poultry such as chicken and turkey, and remove the skin and visible fat before cooking. Choose fresh fish and shellfish, plain frozen seafood without sauce, and canned fish packed in water rather than canned fish packed in oil, or fried seafood. Choose more often dry peas and beans, and less often nuts and seeds. As snacks, choose more often fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and air-popped popcorn, and less often pastries and deep fried foods.
- Vitamins and cruciferous vegetables: diets rich in foods containing vitamin A, vitamin C, and a precursor of vitamin A called beta-carotene, may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Diets low in vitamin A actually may increase the risk for some cancers. Vegetables from the cabbage family (cruciferous vegetables) also may reduce cancer risk. They are good sources of fiber and some vitamins and minerals as well. Cruciferous vegetables are bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rutabagas, and turnips and their greens.
- If you broil, grill or barbecue, protect foods from contact with smoke, flame, and extremely high temperatures. They can produce possible cancer-causing substances. Move racks or grills away from heat sources, cook more slowly, and wrap food in foil or put it in a pan before grilling or barbecuing.
Doing these things is no guarantee that we won't get cancer, of course, but they can improve our chances of staying healthy. Following the same advice may also help prevent other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
These articles are not intended as Medical advice, and the author assumes no responsibility for actions taken based on the information contained in this article. If Medical advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
Dr. Nancy Tice
Dr. Nancy Tice is a psychiatrist with extensive experience furnishing medical information and writing health and technology related articles. She did her medical training at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Dr. Tice has been working online in some capacity for 21 years. She enjoys helping people online via online psychotherapy, e-mail and or chat correspondence, phone consultations and in person individual psychotherapy. Although classically trained and well versed in psychopharmacology, Dr. Tice also uses alternative treatments and natural supplements to manage issues when appropriate.