Nutrition and Cancer Prevention

Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.
  • Lunasin, a newly discovered protein in soybeans, was found to arrest tumor growth.
  • A Harvard study found that vitamin D and cereal fiber, and to a lesser degree exercise and calcium intake, decreased the risk of colorectal cancer. On the other hand, smoking, alcohol, and red meat consumption increased the risk of colon cancer.
  • After following 424,168 postmenopausal women over a 14 year period, the American Cancer Society reported in May, 2002 that risk of death from breast cancer in the most overweight women was 3.1 times higher than in lean women. Two out of every three American postmenopausal women are overweight.
  • Over the past 3 decades the incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has doubled, making it the fifth biggest cancer killer in men and the sixth in women. In two large studies, the highest risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was seen in women consuming red meat.
  • A study of Asian women living in England found that women who ate the most vegetables and legumes and had the highest intake of fiber had only one-half the risk of breast cancer compared with those women who ate the smallest amounts of these foods.
  • A daily intake of 3 ozs.of meat was observed to be associated with a 15 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer while a daily intake of 1 oz. of processed meat was associated with a 49 percent increased risk. In another study, the risk of colorectal cancer for the highest meat consumers was 4 times greater than the lowest consumers. In a third study, the risk of colorectal cancer was 65 percent greater in those who consumed low amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which has cancer protective properties.

  • Two new studies have shown that women who work the graveyard shift for many years have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Being exposed to bright lights at nighttime diminishes melatonin production with a concomitant rise in estrogen.
  • The risk of colorectal and stomach cancer was 31% and 47% lower, respectively, for a high intake of raw or cooked garlic versus a low intake. The average difference between high and low garlic intakes was 16 g/week.
  • A review of 35 studies conducted over the past 32 years supports the hypothesis that meat consumption is associated with a modest increased risk of colorectal cancer. This association is more consistently found for red meat and processed meat. Frying, broiling, roasting, or barbecuing meat produces a variety of cancer-causing heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
  • Preliminary research suggests that women with a good dietary intake of vitamin D and women living in regions of high sun exposure have a lower risk of breast cancer. In addition, tests reveal that vitamin D inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells. About 10 to 20 minutes of bright sunlight on the arms and face 3 times a week is usually sufficient time to manufacture enough vitamin D to meet one’s needs. However, those living in latitudes such as Michigan cannot manufacture sufficient vitamin D during November to March when the sun’s rays are of insufficient strength. Furthermore, vitamin D production decreases with aging. Breakfast cereals, dairy products, and soy beverages that are each fortified with vitamin D can provide a good dietary source of the vitamin.
  • A high intake of raw or cooked garlic was associated with a 31 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer and a 47 percent lower risk of stomach cancer compared to a low intake.
  • Men who consumed 4 or more servings per day of vegetables had a 35 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than men who consumed 2 or fewer servings per day. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) were especially protective. Fruit intake was not related to risk of prostate cancer.
  • An estimated 175,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Excess body weight and drinking alcohol (as little as 1 drink a day) elevates the risk of breast cancer. Other factors thought to be associated with breast cancer are high fat diets, a low intake of fruits, soy, and vegetables, and a high exposure to pesticides. Important non-lifestyle risk factors include age, family history and late menopause.
  • In the Nurses’ Health Study in Boston, women who reported eating red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) as a main dish at least once a day had a risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma about twice that of women who ate red meat less than once a week. Cancer of the lymph glands is on the increase in older people.
  • The Physicians’ Health Study found that men who consumed 2.5 servings a day of dairy products had a 42 percent increased risk of prostate cancer compared to men who consumed less than one-half a serving a day. Men who took daily calcium supplements increased their risk of prostate cancer three-fold.
  • In 1999, an estimated 95,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and another 35,000 with rectal cancer. Within 10 years, 55 percent are expected to die. Avoiding excess weight, increasing physical activity, and eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat are recommended as significant ways to lower one’s risk of colorectal cancer. Data from the CDC shows that obesity triples the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Women who regularly exercise may reduce their risk of breast cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study in Boston, those women who exercised an average of 7 hours a week had a 20 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than in women who led a more sedentary life. Women exercising an average of 30 minutes a day experienced about a 10-15 percent reduction in risk of breast cancer. Researchers found that brisk walking or bike riding could reduce the risk of breast cancer as effectively as more vigorous exercise.
  • Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, is the red pigment found in tomatoes. A regular consumption of tomatoes was recently shown to protect against DNA oxidative damage by 30-40 percent. Lycopene or tomato consumption is associated with a 40% reduced risk of cancers. The evidence for a benefit is strongest for cancers of the prostate, stomach and lung.

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  1. asifawan October 1, 2016

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