Cancer Prevention Diet

October was cancer awareness month. Did you know that there is something you can do to reduce your risk of certain cancers?

Cancer prevention is still currently being researched, but what we do know is that the chance of developing cancer can be affected by the lifestyle choices we make. Research has show that up to ‘one-third of all cancer deaths are linked to diet and physical activity.’ Following giving up smoking, the most important things you can do to help reduce your risk are eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight and doing regular physically activity throughout your life.

Eating right can lower your chance of developing cancer – here are some general guidelines to help reduce your risk:

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day.
    • Aim for at least half of your plate being filled with a variety of veg, include beans.
    • Linked with a lower risk of certain cancers (e.g. of lung, oral, esophageal, stomach and colon).
  • Eat less foods that are high in calories and fat and low in nutrients.
    • This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, processed snack foods and desserts.
    • Foods that contain added fats and sugar can cause you to gain weight and they also then replace healthier, cancer-preventive foods’.
    • You can still enjoy those high fat/sugar treats you love, but just remember to eat smaller portions of them and limit the number of times you induldge – see them as treats and not as staples in your diet.
  • Limit your alcohol intake
    • Research shows that alcohol (all types) may increase your risk of breast, pancreatic and other cancers (e.g. cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and rectum)
    • Try to avoid drinking and smoking as it is considered more harmful if you do this combination.
    • If you do drink alcohol, limit the number of drinks to no more than one drink per day and aim for at least 4 non-alcoholic days in the week.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight
    • Overweight or obesity is ‘related to as many as one in five cancer-related deaths’.
    • It is still unclear as to how a higher weight affects cancer risk .
    • Weight that is carried in the abdominal/belly area is linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer,  cancers of the pancreas, uterus and breast (postmenopausal women).
  • Watch your meat intake
    • Some studies have suggested a link between colon cancer and eating large amounts of red meat, especially processed meat (e.g. ham, bacon and sausages)
    • Enjoy protein in moderation and choose lean protein (e.g. fish, chicken, venison, ostrich)
    • Remove any excess visible fat from your meat.
    • Consider exchanging meat protein sources with plant-based sources of protein (e.g. beans)

Munchwize Dietitians are based in Cape Town. Contact us here to book an appointment.