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Published on March 28, 2014

Fighting Cancer Risk Factors with Food

March 28, 2014

PomegranateCancer is considered a preventable disease because most cancers are caused by modifiable environmental exposures and lifestyle behaviors. Dietary components can promote or inhibit carcinogenesis, which is the initiation of cancer formation.

Some foods that have been linked to increasing cancer risks include red meat, processed meats, salted and salty foods, and alcoholic drinks. Some lifestyle behaviors that may increase risk for developing cancer include increased abdominal fat, adult weight gain, being overweight/obese, too much screen time/physical inactivity, and too many fast foods and sugary beverages.

Early screening for cancer and cancer risk are important public measures to detect cancer stages and reduce cancer development when it is most treatable. To help fight cancer risk factors with food it is important to consume a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Vitamins such as Vitamin C, E, and Beta-carotene act as antioxidants and help prevent or repair damage to cells due to oxidation. This helps to maintain body tissue and prevent diseases such as cancer. Consumption of foods rich in specific pigments and other phytochemicals (biologically active compounds found in plants) rather than consumption of isolated phytochemicals may help prevent certain types of cancer. Higher intakes of these foods may partially account for lower rates of cancer.

Some of the top sources of these foods are pomegranate, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate, walnuts, pecans, raspberries, cranberries, and mango. Just remember to always choose a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate nutrition.

Michael Ann Kelly, MS, RD
Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research

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