The relationship between cancer and diet is established but at the same time very complicated, as the disease itself. Many research over the last few decades has shown that certain foods and nutrients can help prevent or, conversely, contribute to certain types of cancer. While there are many factors that you can not change in order to modify your cancer risks, such as genes and certain environmental factors, there are other factors you can change, such as your diet and body weight.
Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of over 10 types of cancers, such as breast cancer (postmenopausal), colon and ovarian cancer. In a study of 5 million people, it was found that an increase of BMI about 1 kg/m2 could annually lead to 3790 additional patients who develop some type of cancer that is positively associated with excess body weight. The reason is that obesity and excess fat are inflammatory conditions, so they produce hormones and inflammatory proteins that can promote tumor growth.
Processed and red meat
The link between processed meat and red meat with cancer is proven. Processed meat is any meat that has been smoked, fermented or contains additional salt and nitrites to enhance its taste. It has been found that consumption of ~50 grams of processed meat per day is associated with about a 20% increase in the risk of colorectal cancer. Even if the exact mechanism is not clear, it seems to be related to the additional nitrates in the processed meat and the iron naturally present in the red meat. So, minimize or do not consume processed meat and limit the intake of red meat 2-3 times per month, as is proposed by the Mediterranean diet.
Antioxidants are undoubtedly important for preventing cancer, as they help to neutralize free radicals that can damage cells. But the biggest question is whether taking more through diet or dietary supplements further reduces the risk. So far, research has not come to a conclusion. But as their protection is undoubted, increase the consumption of foods that are rich in antioxidants. A simple way is to include foods, fruits and vegetables with bright colors, such as dark green, orange, purple, yellow and red, such as spinach, carrots, red cabbage and tomatoes.
Carbohydrates play a role in the development of cancer. Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how fast carbohydrates convert to glucose in the blood. High glycemic (GI) or high glycemic (GL) diets, which increase chronically postprandial blood glucose, may increase the risk of cancer. High carbohydrate intake from high GI foods has been associated with an increased risk of cancer associated with colon and diabetes. In contrast, eating low glycemic foods, such as legumes, non-starchy vegetables, fruits and whole grains, was associated with a 67% lower risk of breast cancer. The study also found that consumption of food with higher glycemic load was associated with a 88% higher risk of prostate cancer.
Diet and lifestyle
While diet and weight loss are key to cancer prevention, combining a good diet with other healthy habits can further reduce the risk. The risk factors that appear to be related to cancer are smoking, alcohol and exercise.
For this reason, if you want to reduce the risk of cancer, pay a little more attention to what you eat, how you live and exercise.