With all the talk in the news lately about meat causing cancer (spoiler alert: the increased risk is minimal), it seems like a good time to look at the role that diet and lifestyle can play in cancer prevention. Cancer has become an epidemic in the United States. Recent statistics from the American Cancer Society estimate a lifetime risk of developing cancer at 1 in 2 for males and 1 in 3 for females. The likelihood of dying from cancer is approximately 1 in 4 for males and 1 in 5 for females.

Cancer is undiscriminating and there is often no rhyme or reason to why some people develop cancers and others do not. Genetics and predisposition play a big role in some cancers, but there are also many things you can do every day to decrease your risk.

Optimize Your Diet:

healthy-diet-cancer-preventionWhen it comes to diet, it is important to taste the rainbow! Eating a variety of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits provides many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with potent health benefits. Foods of different colors tend to have different types of these nutrients, so be sure to add a variety of different colors to your plate.

Choose fruits and vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates and high in potent antioxidants called flavonoids. One type of flavonoid that has received a lot of attention for cancer prevention is a group of blue and purple pigments called Anthocyanins that are found in red grapes, blackberries, blueberries, plums, cranberries, and red cabbage. Typically the brighter or darker the color, the more cancer fighting potential it has.

Fiber is also very important when it comes to cancer prevention. There are two main forms of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is the kind that attracts water and makes things slimy (like flax, chia, oats, and psyllium). Insoluble fiber is often called “roughage” and is found in green vegetables, lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds. Fiber is like a scrub brush for the intestines and rids your body of toxins and excess blood sugar, cholesterol, and hormones, all of which helps to prevent certain types of cancer.

Move Your Body:

exercise-cancer-preventionResearch has found that increased physical activity is correlated to a lower incidence of many types of cancer including colon, lung, breast, uterine, and prostate cancers. A good goal for most people is 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity. Exercise also significantly improves cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, and mood. You should exercise at a level of your safe target heart rate and talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Vitamin D:

Optimizing your vitamin D status is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent cancer. If you’ve never had your Vitamin D levels tested, there’s no better time than the present. Supplementing Vitamin D to get your blood levels in an optimum range of 40-70 ng/mL can decrease your risk of breast, colon, ovarian, or prostate cancer by as much as 50 percent.

Avoid Toxic Cleaning and Beauty Products:

natural-nontoxic-makeupHousehold cleaners and beauty products are often full of chemicals known to be carcinogenic (i.e. cancer causing) and endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with your body’s natural hormones. Many endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen and may increase the risk for certain hormonal cancers like breast and ovarian cancers. One major endocrine disruptor is Dioxin, which is a byproduct of the bleaching process and found in many feminine hygiene products. Another potent endocrine disruptor is BPA, a component of many plastics and food and drink containers.

For yourself and your family, choose natural home cleaning products or make your own using simple ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. The Environmental Working Group maintains amazing resources for finding non-toxic household products and cosmetics.

Don’t Use Tobacco:

Tobacco causes more than just lung cancer. It also increases your risk of head and neck, stomach, kidney, bladder, pancreatic, ovarian, and cervical cancers. Quitting can be hard, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many medications, supplements, and acupuncture treatments that may make it easier to quit.


Disclaimer: This article is purely informational and is not meant to represent a treatment, prevention, or cure for a specific disease or health condition and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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