Diet Guidelines for Preventing Cancer
you have a history of cancer in your family, or are
currently battling the disease, lifestyle factors,
including your diet, can make a huge difference in
helping you fight off cancer. Some foods actually
increase your risk of cancer, while others support
your body and strengthen your immune system. By
making smart food choices, you can protect your
health, feel better, and boost your ability fight
off cancer and other disease.
No food is guaranteed to keep cancer away, but even
without conclusive evidence, researchers say it
makes sense to follow these guidelines for avoiding
CHOOSE CANCER-FIGHTING FOODS
Your immune system keeps you healthy by fighting off
unwanted invaders in your system, including cancer
cells. There are many things you can eat to maximize
the strength of your immune system, as well as many
cancer-fighting foods. But keep in mind that there
is no single miracle food or ingredient that will
protect you against cancer. Eating a colorful
variety gives you the best protection.
1. Boost your antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful
vitamins that protect against cancer and help the
cells in your body function optimally. Fruits and
vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants such
as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and
2. Eat a wide range of brightly colored fruits and
vegetables. Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich
in phytochemicals, a potent disease–fighting and
immune–boosting nutrient. The greater the variety of
colors that you include, the more you will benefit,
since different colors are rich in different
3. Flavor with immune-boosting spices and foods.
Garlic, ginger, and curry powder not only add
flavor, but they add a cancer-fighting punch of
valuable nutrients. Other good choices include
turmeric, basil, rosemary, and coriander. Use them
in soups, salads, casseroles, or any other dish.
Sticking with a plant-based diet is a good way to
avoid cancer, according to scientists at the
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which
just released six dietary guidelines for cancer
prevention, published in the Journal of the American
College of Nutrition. More fruits and vegetables,
and less alcohol, dairy and processed meats, could
lower the risk of cancers in the mouth, lung, breast
and colon. Ready for a cancer-fighting diet? Here’s
what the group recommends, from its press release:
Drink plenty of water. Water is essentially to all
bodily processes. It stimulates the immune system,
removes waste and toxins, and transports nutrients
to all of your organs.
PLANT -BASED DIET
Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce the risk of
Consuming thirty-five grams of dairy
protein each day, the equivalent of one and a half
cups of cottage cheese, increases risk of prostate
cancer by 32 percent. Drinking two glasses of milk
each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60
Calcium supplements appear to have the same
effect as milk intake. Men who supplement with more
than 400 milligrams of calcium per day increase risk
for fatal prostate cancer by 51 percent.
LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE
Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers
of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon,
rectum, and breast.
One drink per week increases risk of
mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24 percent.
Two to three drinks per day increase risk of
colorectal cancer by 21 percent.
The alcohol itself (rather than additives)
appears to be the cause of cancer, and all types of
alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, and spirits) are
AVOID RED AND PROCESSED MEATS
Avoid red and processed meats to reduce the risk of
cancers of the colon and rectum.
Each 50-gram daily serving of processed
meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one
sausage link, increases risk of colorectal cancer by
21 percent. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat,
equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of
colorectal cancer by 28 percent.
The heme iron, nitrites, heterocyclic amines,
and overabundance of essential amino acids in red
and processed meats are all believed to contribute
to cancerous cell growth in the body.
AVOID GRILLED, FRIED, AND BROILED MEATS
Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce
the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast,
prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
Four types of heterocyclic amines (HCAs)
are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum.
HCAs form from creatine and amino acids in cooked
skeletal muscle, increasing with higher cooking
times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs
can disrupt DNA synthesis.
In addition to the cancers listed above, HCAs
are also associated, to a weaker extent, with
cancers of the breast, prostate, kidney, and
EAT MORE SOY PRODUCTS
Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer
and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality
for women previously treated for breast cancer.
Evidence from Asian and Western countries
shows that soy products are associated with reduced
cancer risk. Chinese women who consume more than
11.3 grams of soy protein, equivalent to half a cup
of cooked soybeans, each day during adolescence have
a 43 percent reduced risk of premenopausal breast
cancer, compared with women who consume 1.7 grams.
Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast
cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day
can reduce mortality and risk of recurrence by about
30 percent. U.S. populations show similar findings:
the higher the isoflavone intake from soy products,
the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women
with breast cancer.
When choosing soy products, opt for natural
forms, such as edamame, tempeh, or organic tofu, as
opposed to soy protein concentrates and isolates,
common in powders and pills.
MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of
several common forms of cancer.
Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy
greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high
intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli,
kale, and cabbage, is associated with an 18 percent
reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced risk
of lung and stomach cancers. Women who consume the
most carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and
sweet potatoes, lower their risk of breast cancer by
19 percent. Overall, women who consume the highest
quantities of any kind of fruit or vegetable reduce
breast cancer risk by 11 percent. A high intake of
tomato products has been shown to reduce risk of
gastric cancer by 27 percent. Garlic and other
allium vegetables, such as onions, significantly
reduce risk for gastric cancer, while a Western diet
(high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts
of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.
Some components in soybeans, green tea,
turmeric, grapes, tomatoes, and other plant foods
have the ability to regulate apoptosis (a natural
process for destroying unhealthy cells), an
important pathway for cancer prevention.