Cancer. If there is one word that is sure to bring up instant dread in most of us, it’s this one. For an illness that is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, so much of it remains a mystery. Sure, we know what it is and how it works. But researchers have still not been able to pinpoint just what causes it in certain people. There are always risk factors, but so many people who lead perfectly healthy lifestyles are still affected by it. 

This dangerous word, that can attach itself to anyone, making us feel susceptible and vulnerable. 

But are there certain steps you can take to avoid this threat? Many recent studies have studied the link between diet and cancer. What if there are certain foods you can avoid to reduce the risk? Conversely, what if certain foods prevent cancer? You know what they say: prevention is always better than cure.

How are Diet and Cancer Connected?

Just how do eating habits link to cancer? Recent medical research suggests that following certain food diet habits could reduce the chances of acquiring 30-50% of all cancer types. The World Health Organisation states that nutrition and dietary control is an important factor in cancer prevention. Thus, diet and cancer are connected.

Obesity could be one of the major risk factors for cancer. It puts a person in the threat of many types of cancer such as cancer that affects the colon, kidneys, pancreas, oesophagus and breasts after menopause. Excess body fat affects the way your body processes and functions. Hence, it could lead to abnormal behaviour in cells.

It is important to not body-shame people over this. A healthy diet should be followed for the sake of your well-being and not to look ‘attractive’ in a certain way. There are just some steps you could take to take care of yourself in that aspect.

Of course, there is no guarantee. Lots of factors that play a role in causing cancer such as genes and environment cannot be controlled. But your food habits are one thing you can be mindful about. It is one more weapon to equip yourself with, in the battle against cancer.

Which Foods Increase the Risk of Cancer?

Now, you may wonder which are the foods that can cause cancer. We have compiled a list of a few. While they may not definitely be foods that can cause cancer, they are definitely foods that increase the risk of cancer. 

Here are five foods that you can avoid to protect yourself from cancer:

1. Sugary foods and drinks

Who doesn’t enjoy a good dessert? But consuming too many foods which are high in sugar but low in nutrients can lead to a spike in the blood glucose level. These are at the top of the list about which foods can cause cancer. They have been linked to many types of cancer such as breast, colorectal and stomach cancers.

Thus, next time be sure to limit yourself on the number of cakes, pastries, cookies and sweet soda you consume. 

2. Processed Meat 

Processed meat means meat that has undergone treatments like salting, smoking or curing, for preservation. Such meat is commonly found in hot dog sausages, ham, bacon, salami and other such foods. Processed meat poses a threat of causing cancer, colorectal cancer in particular. You can consider switching to fresher, healthier alternatives.

3. Fast Food and Refined Carbs

This one is probably obvious. We all know that fast food is not healthy for us, yet how can one resist that last slice of pizza? Though it is delicious, fast foods such as burgers, pizzas and pasta contain refined carbohydrates which also spike the glucose in our blood and cause more harm than good. It is one of the most harmful foods that can cause cancer.

Diet and Cancer
Diet and Cancer

It is important to try and master those junk food cravings. It is okay to indulge in them once in a while, as long as you know just when to stop.

4. Red Meat

Though it is so common, too much red meat has been linked to pancreatic, colorectal and prostate cancer. Meats like pork, ham, beef and lamb are classified under red meat. Be sure to consume properly cooked red meat. 

The recommended amount of red meat is between 65g to 100g weekly.

5. Alcohol

A glass of cool beer may seem tempting at the end of a stressful day, but when one glass turns into two, three and four, it becomes harmful. Alcohol has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, which implies that there is enough evidence to deem it as a risk. Alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth, stomach and bowel, breast, throat, oesophagus and liver.

Diet and Cancer
Diet and Cancer

Next time, pause before you ask for just one more drink and ask yourself if you need it.

Top Six Foods that Prevent Cancer

Just as there are foods that can cause cancer, there are recommended dietary habits with foods to avoid cancer. Certain foods have beneficial qualities that make them foods that prevent cancer. Adding them to your lifestyle can make a significant difference.

Here is a list of six foods to avoid cancer:

1. Vegetables 

Vegetables are rich in fiber and nutrients. A diet that consists of a healthy amount of vegetables can lead to much-lowered cancer risk. They also contain antioxidants that strengthen your body. Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have also been linked to the decreasing size of tumors in mice.

2. Citrus Fruits

All fruits are healthy but citrus fruits, in particular, can prevent cancer. They especially reduce the chances of both oesophagal and stomach cancers. Citrus fruits are not only nutritious but also delicious. You can include them in your life by adding a dash of lemon juice to your morning snack and including a few slices of oranges in your evening meal.

Diet and Cancer
Diet and Cancer

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes deserve a special mention. They are one of the most powerful foods to avoid cancer. Tomatoes contain a chemical called lycopene which has been linked to protection against prostate cancer. Tomatoes can not only be eaten cooked but also raw. Just a little bit of them in your daily diet can cause wonders.

4. Garlic

We all love that tinge of garlic in our food. Garlic is a superfood in the way that not only does it add flavour, but also gives protection. Garlic has been declared as an anti-carcinogen, which are foods that prevent cancer. A lot of homemade dishes like chicken and stir-fry can be made using garlic, without compromising on taste.

5. Whole grains and Spices

Whole grains contain lots of fibre that improves digestion. These qualities are what make them cancer preventive. Whole grains like brown rice, oats, rye and quinoa have proven to reduce chances of colorectal cancer. Spices like cinnamon and turmeric have also been linked under the umbrella of foods that prevent cancer.

6. Carrots

Carrots are popular for their Vitamin A content. But they also contain antioxidants and fibrous constituents that help reduce chances of bowel cancer. Next time you feel bored and hungry, you can snack on some carrot sticks instead of something unhealthy.

How do I lead a cancer safe lifestyle?

While there is no way to ensure a foolproof cancer safe lifestyle, you can try to get as close to it as possible by remembering the link between diet and cancer. By following the tips given above and learning how to make healthy snacks the next time you have a craving, you can protect yourself. Along with diet, it is also important to follow a regular exercise routine. 

We all only have one life to live. There is nothing wrong with indulging in our guilty pleasures every once in a while. However, we owe it to ourselves to sit back and reflect on the little decisions we make every day that have huge effects on our health.

Also Read: Various Types Of Cancers In Young Adults