Nutrition and Cancer: Diet Tips to Lower Your Risks

Nutrition and Cancer: Diet Tips to Lower Your Risks

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February 21, 2017


This post is available in: Spanish

Many cancers diagnosed in the United States every year can be linked to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption or poor nutrition — which means these diseases can be prevented to some extent, according to recent studies and the American Cancer Society.

Avoiding tobacco, keeping a healthy weight and exercising regularly significantly reduces a person’s lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer. Moreover, the same behavior can lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

(Video: Alice Pereira and Susan Nowrouzi, registered dietitians and cancer nutrition specialists at Baptist Health South Florida, outline dietary guidelines that can help lower your risks for many cancers while promoting general health.)


Adhering to proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge for many people, but the rewards in terms of healthy living are well worth it, according to Alice Pereira and Susan Nowrouzi, dietitians and cancer nutrition specialists at Baptist Health South Florida.

More Fruits and Vegetables

Modifying dietary habits so that fruits and vegetables become the focus, while staying away from processed meats and sugars, is of utmost imporantance for lowering your risk of developing cancer, they emphasize.

“Our advice is to eat a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein,” said Nowrouzi. “Body fat can increase your risk for many cancers.”

Diets filled with fruits and vegetables provide phytochemicals, a class of nutrients that occur naturally in plants. They also offer vitamins and minerals, all which can act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the cellular processes of the body and help your body fight inflammation.

Less Processed Meat, Sugars

“Red and processed meats contain chemicals that irritate and damage cells, which can increase your risk of cancer,” Pereira says.

A recent study found that diet plays a key role in the risk of developing colorectal cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. The study, which tracked nearly 78,000 participants — men and women of different races — in 48 states, concluded that consumption of red meat — especially processed meat — is linked to an elevated risk of colorectal cancer.

“Vegetarian diets were associated with an overall reduced risk of colorectal cancer,” the study reported. “Compared with nonvegetarians, vegetarians had a 22 percent lower risk for all colorectal cancers, 19 percent lower risk for colon cancer and 29 percent lower risk for rectal cancer,” according to a report published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a publication from the American Medical Association..

Other studies have linked diets high in sugar to higher risks of certain types of cancers, especially breast cancer. A new study released last month found that 11 of the 15 cancers are closely linked to smoking and alcohol.

“Limit sugars and artificial sweeteners, and restrict alcohol intake,” said Ms. Nowrouzi. “Some studies show that three to four drinks a week can increase a breast cancer’s survivor’s risk for recurrence.”

Watch the video now for more vital facts on nutrition and cancer prevention.

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