Study Confirms Healthy Eating Reduces Cancer Risk
A major study has found that the risk of getting cancer is significantly reduced if people follow a healthy diet, do regular exercise and reduce their alcohol consumption.
The study found that a healthy diet overall was the most significant contributor to the reduced risk of cancer, rather than any single dietary recommendation.
One in four cancers are preventable
The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer has estimated that in developed countries around 35% of breast cancers and 45% of colorectal cancers could be avoided.
Cancer Research UK says that around four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy, balanced diet, and that keeping to a healthy weight is the second best thing to do in order to reduce the risk of cancer (after not smoking).
This new study from the American Association for Cancer Research looked into the role of nutrition in cancer prevention.
Researchers looked at data from over 40,000 people aged 40 or over. The participants had provided information on all the food and drink they consumed. The researchers calculated the nutritional scores and looked at the cancer diagnoses that were made during the following eight years.
Overall cancer risk
The analysis showed that a one-point increase in the nutritional score was associated with a 12% decrease in overall cancer risk, a 14% decrease in breast cancer risk and a 12% decrease in prostate cancer risk.
It is thought that high-fibre foods such as wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer, and that processed and red meat increases the risk of some cancers.
The authors of this study claim that the antioxidants from fruit and vegetables may counteract some of the oxidative damage to the DNA caused by processed and red meat. They also state that exercise can lower blood pressure, which partly counteracts the effects of eating foods that are high in salt.
The study results also highlight alcohol as a risk factor for cancer.
The study authors conclude: “This emphasises the role of an overall healthy lifestyle – nutrition and physical activity and alcohol avoidance – in cancer prevention.
“It is, therefore, important to keep in mind that every lifestyle factor counts and it is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”
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