Read an Excerpt
Foods That Combat Cancer
The Nutritional Way to Wellness
Resist Cancer Now
Consider: Nearly 70 percent of all cancer -- one of the most dreaded diseases known to humanity -- is linked to poor diet. What this rather startling statistic means is you can slash your odds of getting the disease by what you put on your plate! And it doesn't take a grit-your-teeth-and-do-it dietary commitment, either.
In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) says a simple change like eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day will cut your cancer risk by more than 20 percent. And get this: Some of the most protective fruits and vegetables are those we eat most often, including carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli, green vegetables, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and legumes. That's the conclusion of a major review study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, which analyzed more than 200 other cancer-diet studies. As you plan your diet to include more of these foods, you can use this counter to easily identify the richest sources of cancer-fighting substances in fruits, vegetables, and other foods.
Along with eating more fruits and vegetables, there are other incredibly easy ways to roll back your risk -- things most of us should be doing but aren't -- like reducing our fat intake and eating more fiber. According to Ritva Butrum, Ph.D., vice president for research at AICR, "Future cancer-fighting efforts are more likely to revolve around dietary adjustments than miracle pills."
That position is supported by hundreds of studies looking into the relationship between cancer and diet -- studies that strongly support the fact that cancer is preventable through diet. For a synopsis of which foods are the most protective against specific types of cancers, refer to the table below.
More good news: If you stay active, maintain a healthy weight, don't smoke, and continue to eat right, your risk shrinks even more -- by nearly 70 percent.
With this in mind, let's take a closer look at how you can reduce the threat of cancer by tweaking your diet, in some very easy ways, starting now.
Diets overloaded with two types of fat -- saturated fats and trans-fats -- have been implicated in the development of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and quite possibly, breast cancer. Saturated fats are present predominantly in animal foods, specifically red meat and animal fat. Trans-fats are synthetic fats that act like saturated fats in the body and are found in stick margarine and shortening. Trans-fats are produced when vegetable fats are converted from liquid to solid form in a process known as hydrogenation. The problem with trans-fats is that, once in the body, they inflict damage to cell membranes, making cells indefensible to invaders.
Saturated Fat and Cancer
A slew of studies has found a strong link between saturated fat and prostate cancer, the deadliest cancer among American men. Saturated fat is thought to alter levels of sex hormones, creating an internal environment that can promote this form of cancer. In a study conducted in France, investigators found that men whose diets contained more than 30 to 40 percent fat (most of it saturated) had a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than men whose diets contained less than 30 percent fat.
The risk of colon cancer catching up with you some time in the future may also be related to the amount of saturated fat you eat. A Harvard study discovered that men who ate low amounts of saturated fat (7 percent of their calories) had half the rate of precancerous polyps of men who ate double that amount (14 percent). Polyps can progress into tumors in the colon. A diet high in red meat -- a major source of saturated fat -- has also been implicated in a higher risk of colon cancer.
Breast cancer is the most extensively studied cancer in terms of its relationship to dietary fat. But until fairly recently, saturated fat was believed to be a criminal in the promotion of breast cancer. However, a study of nearly 90,000 women conducted by doctors at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital exonerated saturated fat, finding little evidence of the suspected breast cancer link. Other research has produced similar findings. Most investigators believe that multiple factors are at work to increase the risk of breast cancer -- including genetics, menstrual history, physical activity, body fat, and overall diet -- so it's difficult to pin the cause on saturated fat alone.
Trans-Fats and Cancer
Trans-fats, however, have been blamed for an increased risk of breast cancer. A University of North Carolina study discovered that women whose fatty tissue contained high levels of trans-fats and low levels of healthier vegetable-based fats were three times more likely to develop breast cancer. Other research has found that diets high in trans-fats are also associated with prostate cancer.
As for the type of fat you eat, oil from fish has been found to be protective against some cancers, in contrast to the possible cancer-promoting effect of saturated fat. What's more, in countries where people eat a lot of olive oil, rates of breast cancer and colon cancer are very low.
What You Can Do Now
The American Institute for Cancer Research and other leading health organizations recommend that you reduce your fat intake to 20 percent or less of your total daily calories. On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that equates to about 44 grams of fat daily. Less than 10 grams of that daily fat allotment should come from saturated fat.
This book is written as a source of information only. The information contained in this book should by no means be considered a substitute for the advice of a qualified medical professional, who should always be consulted before beginning any new diet, exercise or other health program.
All efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this book as of the date published. The author and the publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein.Foods That Combat Cancer
The Nutritional Way to Wellness. Copyright © by Maggie Greenwood-Robinson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.