Updated: May 30, 2022
The American Institute for Cancer Research is a leading organization in the field of cancer prevention and treatment. The American Institute for Cancer Research publishes a list of guidelines for cancer prevention every 10 years, and it may not be a surprise that plant-based eating is heavily included throughout the recommendations!
Interesting fact: Experts say that up to 40% of cancer cases are preventable through lifestyle factors.
Below are 10 health tips to lower cancer risk.
1. Stay at a healthy weight.
Keeping weight within a healthy range can lower risk of cancer. Generally, it's ideal to be on the lower end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range, though this might not be the case for everyone. Body fat often acts as a ‘hormone pump’ which release things like estrogen, insulin, and other hormones which can cause cancer growth.
Eating a diet that is plant-based can lead to weight-loss!
2. Move your body.
Being physically active is one of the things you can do for your body. It helps with weight loss and maintenance, along with lowering your risk of cancer, and improves overall health. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity (30 minutes a day for five days a week) or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week.
3. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.
This might not be a surprise to plant-based foodies! A diet made up of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes offers major advantages to preventing cancer compared to omnivorous diets. With a variety of vitamins and minerals, along with phytochemicals that can protect from cells that lead to cancer, a plant-based diet has been extensively show to prevent cancer.
4. Limit consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars.
These foods often lead to excess calorie intake and weight gain. Processed and fast foods can often be high in unhealthy fats and sugars. Switch out processed foods such as meats and cheese for beans and nut butters to lower cancer risk.
5. Limit consumption of red and processed meat.
The expert panel recommends eating the least amount of red meat as possible to reduce cancer risk. Heavily processed meats such as ham and bacon, increase cancer risk, even when eaten in very little amounts. Substitute plant-based protein sources such as tempeh, legumes, nuts and seeds or experiment with the latest plant-based options on the market. Have you tried BBQ jackfruit sandwiches?
6. Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.
Strong evidence suggests sugar-sweetened beverages causes weight gain and obesity, which is linked to 12 different types of cancers. Instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, try boosting water intake by adding cucumber, berries, lemons, or fresh herbs to water for added flavor and nutrients! There is no one size fits all for how much water you should drink, a good suggestion is to keep a bottle of water with you and drink throughout the day.
7. Limit alcohol consumption.
To decrease the risk of cancer, it's best not to drink alcohol. Alcohol in any form is a potent carcinogen and has been linked to 6 different cancers. Experts say the limit if you do drink should be one standard drink a day for women and two a day for men.
8. Do not rely on supplements to prevent cancer.
It's best to meet vitamin and mineral needs through a whole foods plant-based diet. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes will provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals, not to mention powerful phytonutrients. Some populations, such as pregnant women and the elderly can benefit from supplementation, however, some high-dose supplements can increase the risk of cancer. Talk with your doctor before taking supplements.
9. For expecting and new mamas: when possible, breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding is a great benefit to both mother and baby! It can lower mom's cancer risk due to lowering cancer-related hormones and ridding of damaged breast cells. Bonus: Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of children being overweight and obese later in life.
10. After a cancer diagnosis: follow your doctor's recommendations.
Always check with your health professional about what is right for you.
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Hey everyone! My name is Alec Pienta and I am finishing the master's level Coordinated Program of Nutrition at Georgia State University, which will enable me to sit and (hopefully) pass the exam to become a Registered Dietitian. I was drawn to studying nutrition through sports and exercise in high school. Nutrition education is one of the aspects I am most passionate about. I enjoy being able to talk about nutrition guidelines, clear up misconceptions, and tell fun facts! I am open to where the world of nutrition leads me, but know that I will be happy being able to communicate nutrition information to anyone who will listen.