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Foods That Could Lower Cancer Risk

Foods That Could Lower Cancer Risk

Your diet makes up a large part of your health—it affects your weight and your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers, and more. The development of cancer, specifically, is heavily influenced by what you eat.

While there’s no food that can stop cancer in its tracks, eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your cancer risk. These foods have been known to reduce cancer risk.

  • Broccoli: Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like kale and cabbage contain a high amount of sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting plant compound linked to reducing the risk of prostate, breast, colon, and oral cancers.
  • Carrots: This vegetable contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant believed to protect cell membranes from damage and slow the growth of cancer cells. Carrots also contain other vitamins and phytochemicals that help protect against breast, mouth, prostate, and stomach cancers.
  • Garlic: According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, eating garlic frequently lowers the risk of colon and rectal cancers by helping with DNA repair, slowing the growth of cancer cells, and decreasing inflammation.
  • Berries: Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and other berries are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and ellagic acid, which destroy cancer-causing substances and slow the growth of tumors. Berries are shown to protect against skin, bladder, lung, breast, and esophageal cancers.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which help protect against prostate cancer, according to studies from the National Cancer Institute. Interestingly, when tomatoes are turned into a sauce or cooked or served with some oil, you’ll better absorb the lycopene. Some research also suggests that tomatoes decrease the risk of mouth, pharynx, nasopharynx, larynx, esophageal, stomach, colon, and rectal cancers.
  • Grapes: These sweet fruits are a great source of the antioxidant resveratrol, which has the potential to stop breast, liver, stomach, and lymphatic system cancers. Resveratrol also helps kill cancer cells that cause tumors in colon cancer.
  • Whole grains: Whole grains include bran, germ, and endosperm, which provide a ton of fiber, nutrients, and phytochemicals. Studies suggest that eating whole grains helps reduce your risk of developing colon and rectal cancer.

Foods to Avoid

Unfortunately, there are also foods that can increase your cancer risk. While you stock up on the cancer-fighting foods above, try to avoid these:

  • Processed meats: This includes hotdogs, ham, sausages, corned beef, beef jerky, and canned meat. These have been shown to have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties linked to stomach, colon, and rectal cancers, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Fried foods: When starchy foods (like french fries or potato chips) are fried, a compound called acrylamide is formed. According to the American Cancer Society, acrylamide is “probably a carcinogenic to humans.” Additionally, eating a lot of fried or processed foods is linked to obesity, which is linked to a higher risk of 13 types of cancer.
  • Alcohol: When you drink, your liver breaks alcohol down into a carcinogenic compound called acetaldehyde. This compound interferes with your immune system, disrupting your body’s ability to target precancerous and cancerous cells. Alcohol also increases estrogen levels in women, which can increase the risk of breast cancer.

You won’t eliminate your cancer risk by only eating certain foods or avoiding others, but eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is key to a healthy life. During mealtime, fill your plate with two-thirds of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Making healthy lifestyle choices is your first line of defense against cancer. Be proactive about your health—make an appointment with your Primary Care provider today.