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Can Certain Foods Fight Cancer?

January 17, 2020

Nearly half of all cancer cases are believed to be preventable. Research shows that following a healthy diet can play a role in preventing cancer and improving overall health. Oncology nutritionist Jill Hamilton-Reeves, PhD, RD, LD, explains the connection between nutrition and cancer and shares healthy foods and resources for cancer prevention.

  • A: There are foods that can fight cancer, such as wholesome, plant-based foods. These foods include berries and other fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy proteins.

  • A: There are about 12-13 cancers that are associated with obesity. It's not the weight on the scale that matters as much as metabolic health. One of the top things you can do to prevent cancer is to maintain a healthy body weight for you. Eating a diet full of plant-based foods and consuming less red meat, processed meats and alcohol can also reduce the risk of cancer.

  • A: Consuming too much sugar could cause weight gain, which could create an unhealthy environment for cancer to develop. When blood sugar increases, insulin increases, and there are quite a few cancers that are associated with high blood sugar. People who have diabetes or prediabetes have a metabolic state that could increase the risk of cancer.

  • A: Eating fruits and vegetables is important, whether they are organic or not. There are some fruits and vegetables that have higher levels of pesticides. You can refer to the Dirty Dozen list if you would like to know which fruits and vegetables to buy organic.

  • A: A high-fiber diet is most associated with reducing the risk of colon cancer. When we consume more fiber, it speeds up the transit of food through the gut. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are great sources of fiber.

  • A: Vitamin and mineral supplements will not prevent cancer. However, consuming a multivitamin can be beneficial for some people. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to decide which supplements are right for you.

For more information on food and cancer prevention, visit the American Institute for Cancer Research.

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