Many studies have looked at the link between diet and cancer prevention. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recently reviewed all articles to date. Based on that review they estimate that 30 to 40% of cancers could be prevented based on a healthy diet and moderate exercise alone. For those already diagnosed with cancer, they recommend following the guidelines for prevention to help prevent recurrence.
AICR Recommendations for Cancer Prevention
- Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods. (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat.)
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
- Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer. (Studies have found that those who take supplements of vitamin E and b-carotene actually have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.)
Diet and Exercise in Lung Cancer Prevention
Several studies have looked at diet and exercise specifically in the prevention of lung cancer. Highlights of these studies that looked at certain foods and exercise include:
- Moderate exercise – even gardening 1 to 2 times per week – lowered the risk of lung cancer in several studies.
- A high fat diet raised the risk of lung cancer.
- Diets high in fruit are associated with a lower risk of lung cancer, and in fact, the National Cancer Institute has estimated that foods high in flavenoids, such as apples, can lower the risk of lung cancer by 50%.
- In women, the intake of dairy products and vegetables has been linked with a lower risk of lung cancer in smokers, and black tea with a lower risk in non-smokers.
- Foods high in lutein, such as collard greens, spinach, broccoli, and orange juice, are associated with a lower risk of lung cancer.
- Foods high in lycopene, such as tomatoes and especially tomato sauces, are linked with a lower risk of lung cancer.
- Smokers that drink green tea appear to have decreased oxidative DNA damage, a genetic change that predisposes to cancer.