Cancer and Nutrition

Cause or Prevention?

There are many factors involved in the development of cancer, some over which we can exert control and others that we cannot. Genetics and environmental hazards are considered beyond our control while our diet is almost completely within our control. While the science is not there to say that any particular foods definitely cause or prevent cancer, there are relationships between diet and cancer which research has revealed. (1)

Calcium

There is evidence that higher calcium intake can lower the risk of cancer, specifically colorectal cancer. It is believed to bind to acids in the body and thereby protect the lining of the GI tract from damage. Above 2,000 mg per day however, is considered to increase the risk of prostate cancer. Most doctors agree that a daily intake of 500-1000 mg. is a good level to optimize calcium’s good effects on the development of cancer. One cup of Cabot Greek Plain Yogurt, made with whole milk, contains 400 mg. This yogurt also has 16 mg. of protein per cup. Fage Plain Greek Yogurt has more protein and less calcium. Choose the one that you like the best. There are many excellent brands available. I prefer the full fat versions because they do not have the tangy taste that’s associated with yogurt. Bone-in fish such as sardines are also a rich source of calcium. One small Atlantic sardine, 2-2/3 x 1/2 x 1/4 inches, has 46 mg. and if you eat sardines, you know that you eat a lot more than one.

Glycemic Index

A 2016 study revealed that foods with a high GI, 70 or above, are associated with an 88% increased risk for prostate cancer. These foods include sugar-sweetened soft drinks, fruit juices and processed foods such as pizza. Foods that are low on the GI such as beans, are linked with a 32% lower risk of both prostate and colorectal cancers. In March of 2015 a study showed a 50% increased risk for lung cancer among people who ate a high GI diet. At David’s Way we always promote a low GI diet.

Processed Meats and Red Meat

Studies consistently show that eating around 2 ounces of processed meat per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer. There is a similar risk for red meat, believed to be associated with the heme iron that is in all red meat.

Weight Gain

In 2014 a study found that a higher BMI increases the risk of developing many of the most common cancers. A 34 pound gain is linked to a 10%, or higher, risk of developing gallbladder, kidney and liver cancers. The hormones and inflammatory proteins produced by fat cells can promote the growth of cancer. We advocate knowing your body fat percentage and keeping it in a healthy range. The number on the scale is not as important as the number of fat cells in your body since they are the trouble makers.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are known cancer fighters. The problem is that sometimes people take supplemental antioxidants for periods of time but across the span of their lifetime, they go lacking in nutritional sources for these nutritional superheroes. It is generally accepted that it’s wise to get your antioxidants from a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables. Try to include bright colors like dark green, orange, purple and red fruits and vegetables for the most protection.

Get Active

According to a study in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2016, good nutrition combined with other healthy habits offers the most protection from cancer. Low risk groups presented as those who do not smoke, drank no more than two servings per day of alcohol, and had a BMI of 18.5-27.5 and engaged in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. At David’s Way, we always tell you to ask your doctor to suggest an exercise program for you to follow. You are a powerful influence in your likelihood of developing cancer. You can increase your risk astronomically by poor nutritional habits and inactivity or you can take control and raise the odds of living into old age cancer free. What will you decide?

(1) https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/cancer-and-diet-whats-the-connection

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