Eating for Cancer Prevention

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Few things in life are scarier than coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and is responsible for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths. Financially, cancer costs the U.S. $263.8 billion dollars in medical costs and lost productivity every year.

The following are risk factors that increase one’s odds for developing cancer:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Unhealthy diet high in processed foods
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Infections (hepatitis, HPV)
  • Environmental pollution (air, water, and soil)
  • Occupational Carcinogens (Asbestos)
  • Radiation (UV light, Radon gas)

The following are steps you can take to reduce your cancer risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight throughout your life
  • Reduce intake of saturated fat, processed meat and red meat
    • Use vegetable oils when cooking (canola, corn, or olive oil) instead of solid fats (butter, or lard)
    • Purchase fat-free or low-fat milk instead of whole milk
    • Trim fat and skin from meat
    • Decrease consumption of fried foods
    • Eat smaller portions
    • Pay attention to fat content on food labels
    • Substitute low-fat products in recipes
    • Consume meat that has lower levels of saturated fat, such as seafood
    • Use meat as a side dish, in small portions
    • Consume lean meats like fish and skinless poultry
    • Consume alternative protein sources such as beans and legumes
  • Limit intake of salt-cured and charred foods
    • Cover grill with aluminum foil to protect the food from smoke and fire
    • Cook meat until done, but do not char it
    • Remove charred portions before eating
    • Precook foods in the microwave to decrease grilling time
  • Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains

  • Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation
    • Instead of alcohol, try non-alcoholic wine, beer, mineral or tonic water, cider, grape juice, or fruit juice
    • Always provide non-alcoholic beverages and nutrient-dense foods at social gatherings
    • Drink alcohol in moderation — no more than two drinks per day for men, and no more than 1 drink per day for women

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