Cancer is no longer thought of as a disease solely caused by elements outside of our control, such as unintended exposure to toxic elements or heredity. Today, we know that quitting smoking, reducing alcohol use and remaining physically fit are steps we can take to prevent many types of cancer. Recent research also indicates that over one-third of cancers could be linked to dietary choices. While some diets, notably those high in fat, and hydrogenated oils can increase one's chance of developing cancer, there is a variety of foods that may significantly reduce the risk.
Fruits and Vegetables
Increasing the intake of certain fruits and vegetables is probably the most important dietary step to take in the prevention of cancer. A recent study indicated those who ate the highest amount of fruits and vegetables were shown to have one half the risk of developing cancer as those eating the least amounts. That same study estimated that eating 400 or more grams daily of fruits and vegetables could prevent at least 20 percent or more of all cancers.
Fruits and vegetables contain powerful nutrients called phytochemicals, which can prevent a healthy cell from turning cancerous. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts contain antioxidants that may help decrease prostate, and other cancers. Broccoli, oranges, spinach, and other foods that contain folate are said to protect against cancer of the pancreas. Sweet potatoes and squash are rich in Vitamin A and Beta Carotine which are key in cancer prevention. Even tomato sauce has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer.
Meat and Fish
The main rule to eating meat in regards to cancer prevention is to cut back, and replace it with more fruits and vegetables. Red meat consumption has been correlated with colon cancer, so it's best to eat turkey or chicken instead. Broiling, baking, or poaching, rather than frying or charbroiling meat reduces the amount of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Salmon and other fish such as herring and sardines contains EPA fat which can potentially fight cancer cell development.
Whole Grains and Nuts
Most people eat a diet that is too low in fiber, which has the ability to move cancer-causing compounds out of the body before they can create harm. It is also thought to lower the incidence of hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancers. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, as well as riboflavin, pantothenic acid and antioxidants, which are all important cancer fighters. It is important, however, to choose whole grain, complex carbohydrates instead of refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta.
Certain types of nuts can also play a part in cancer prevention. Selenium, a mineral found in brazil nuts, has been said to prevent prostate cancer, and walnuts are rich in key omega 3 fatty acids.
There are many other foods that can aid in the prevention of cancer. Green tea contains antioxidants known as catechins which may reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas. The spice tumeric may prevent bowel and colon cancer. Tofu has been shown to lower the threat of breast and prostate cancers. A well-rounded, healthy diet containing essential elements provides extra ammunition in the battle against cancer.