Experts believe that more than half of human cancers may be preventable. Diet, as well as tobacco use, infections, and chemicals or hormones are thought to be major risk factors that can be changed. However, there is still little agreement over which dietary changes can prevent most cancers.
DIET AND CERTAIN CANCERS
Diet and breast cancer: Although a high-fat diet has been studied as a cause of breast cancer, no clear evidence has been found. A high-fat diet may promote breast cancer by causing the body to release more of certain hormones.
Det and prostate cancer: Because prostate cancer appears to be more common with a Western lifestyle, diet has been closely studied as a risk. However, results have not led to a clear answer:
Diet and colon or rectal cancer:
Diet and stomach or esophageal cancer: Countries in which people eat a lot of salt-cured, smoked, and nitrite-cured foods have a high rate of cancer of the stomach and esophagus. Examples of such foods include bacon, ham, hot dogs, and salt-cured fish.
The best advice is to eat a well-balanced diet and avoid focusing on one "cancer-fighting" food.
Fiber and cancer; Cancer and fiber; Nitrates and cancer; Cancer and nitrates
United States Department of Agriculture. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2010. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2010.
Pierce JP, Natarajan L, Caan BJ, Parker BA, Greenberg, Flatt SW, et al. Influence of a diet very high in vegetables, fruit, and fiber and low in fat on prognosis following treatment for breast cancer: the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) randomized trial. JAMA. 2007;293;289-298.
A Dahm CC, Keogh RH, Spencer EA, Greenwood DC, Key TJ, Fentiman IS, et al. Dietary fiber and colorectal cancer risk: a nested case-control study using food diaries. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010;102:614-626.
Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A. Vitamin B6 and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA. 2010;303:1077-1083.
Gaziano JM, Glynn RJ, Christen WG, Kurth T, Belanger C, MacFadyen J, et al. Vitamins E and C in the prevention of prostate and total cancer in men: the Physicians' Health Study II randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2009;301:52-62.
Kushi LH, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin. 2006;56:254-281.
Zell JA, Meyskens FL. Cancer prevention, screening, and early detection. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 26.
Updated by: Alison Evert, MS, RD, CDE, Nutritionist, University of Washington Medical Center Diabetes Care Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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