Food: How the foods you eat might help you fight cancer

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 31, 2024

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Metro Creative Connection

Many people are familiar with certain ways to reduce their risk for cancer. Avoiding tobacco, which the National Cancer Institute notes is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer, and protecting oneself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by applying sunscreen are two of the most widely known ways to reduce cancer risk. But fewer people may recognize the important role diet can play in fighting cancer.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a nutritious diet can reduce your cancer risk. That makes eating right one of the easiest, not to mention the most delicious, ways to reduce your risk for a disease that is often preventable. But how exactly does diet lower cancer risk?

Healthy diets and healthy weights

The American Cancer Society estimates that excess body weight is responsible for about 8 percent of all cancers and roughly 7 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States. A healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and lean protein can help people lose weight and keep the weight off once it’s gone, thereby reducing cancer risk.

Healthy diets and exercise

Unhealthy foods and oversized portions can contribute to feelings of fatigue. Such feelings can make it hard to get off the couch and exercise. While the ACS acknowledges that more studies are necessary to determine the link between sedentary behavior and cancer risk, various studies have shown links between physical activity and reduced cancer risk. For example, a 2016 meta-analysis of 10 cohort studies published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that individuals who were the most physically active had a 19 percent lower risk of stomach cancer than those who were least active. By eating healthier foods and controlling their portions, people may discover they have more energy to get up and exercise, reaping all the rewards that such activity has to offer, including a lower risk for cancer.

Healthy diets and strong immune systems

Another way certain foods can help you fight cancer is by bolstering your immune system, making it more capable of fighting disease. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a world renowned medical center devoted exclusively to cancer patient care, notes that the fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants humans get from consuming plants bolster their immune systems. A strong immune system is a vital ally in the fight against cancer.

The old adage “You are what you eat” is rooted in truth. And people who eat healthy foods are more likely to be healthy as a result.