Healthy Eating to reduce Cancer Risk

The importance of food in preventing cancer

When it comes to cancer prevention food is a powerful medicine. Healthy eating to reduce cancer risk is a very smart option in your quest to cancer-proof yourself!

Study after study shows that a healthy diet – containing large amounts of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes and less fat, animal protein and processed food – can vastly reduce your risk of cancer.

In fact research shows that if we can all increase our intake of the ‘good’ foods, and decrease the ‘bad’ ones, the incidence of all cancers would be reduced by at least 30%.

A study by the Harvard University School of Public Health shows that combine these healthy foods with adequate amounts of exercise and a healthier lifestyle and the rate of cancer deaths are reduced by an incredible 60%.

That’s pretty huge ayy?!

And I think it’s pretty exciting really because it’s so simple.

Plant foods are just SO important in the anti-cancer diet as they contain phytonutrients. These plant nutrients are extra important as they have the ability to stop cancer.

Why are Antioxidants so important?

Everyday our bodies are attacked by a barrage of harmful molecules called free radicals (sounds like ‘Space Invaders’…). Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost an electron. Through their quest to replace the lost electron they damage healthy cells. This process is thought to begin the cancer process.

The reason antioxidants are so important, is because they

(1) Stop the formation of free radicals, or

(2) Disable them before they do harm

Two of the most valuable antioxidants that we get from our food are beta-carotene and vitamin C.

Beta-carotene is the pigment that gives many fruits and vegetables their orange/red colour. It is abundant brightly coloured fruits and vegetables - apricots, pumpkins, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and cantaloupes. This antioxidant stimulates the release of natural killer cells, which hunt down and destroy cancer cells before they have the chance to cause much damage. It is very well known that people who eat lots of foods containing beta-carotene reduce their risks of certain cancers, especially those of the lungs, intestinal tract and mouth.

Vitamin C is one pretty well known vitamin, because it’s been well researched. It’s found in berries, citrus fruits, green & leafy vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum, cantaloupe (rockmelon), papaya and cauliflower. Eating foods rich in Vitamin C helps to prevent cancer-causing compounds from forming in the digestive tract. Eating foods containing Vitamin C also leads to a lower risk of cancer, particularly colon, lung, stomach, oesophageal and oral cancers.

Anti Cancer Diet

Eat more Fruit and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in bioflavonoids and other plant chemicals, fibre, folate and antioxidants. Evidence shows that ensuring your diet contains adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of cancer. Especially eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and spinach. Also yellow and orange veges (squash, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato/kumara), legumes (chickpeas, red beans and lentils), cherries, grapes, berries, apples, plums, oranges.

Reduce your fat intake

Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats. High fat diets and obesity have been linked to increased risks of cancers of the uterus, colon, prostate, skin and breast.

Eat more fibre

Increasing your intake of fibre has been shown to reduce your risk of colon cancer. Fibre increases your waste product transit time through the colon, thereby seemingly reducing your risk of cancer in this area. More fibre in the diet also helps protect against obesity – and the increased risk of cancer through excess body fat.

Limit your alcohol intake and stop smoking

Alcohol depletes stores of all kinds of beneficial nutrients including folate, thiamin & other B vitamins and selenium. Excessive alcohol is linked with increased risks of cancers of the mouth, larynx, oesophagus and liver.

Quitting smoking, more than any other single lifestyle factor, reduces the risk of cancer. Smoking is strongly associated with cancer of the lung (of course!) and also cancers of the oesophagus, mouth, larynx, pancreas and bladder – and perhaps even breast cancer.

It’s simple. If you smoke, you must quit. As a nurse, I’ve seen so many sad sad outcomes. You must quit. For yourself primarily, but also for your family and your loved ones.

Eat animal protein only on rare occasions. Never eat luncheon meat, hot dogs, or smoked or cured meats.

People who eat large amounts of smoked, pickled, cured, fried, charcoal-grilled and processed meats have a higher incidence of stomach and oesophageal tumours. Eating Vegetarian is definitely one way to reduce your chances of ending up with cancer

Get regular exercise.

Cancer is less prevalent in physically active people.

Eat 10 raw almonds daily.

Almonds contain laetrile, which has anticancer properties.

Reduce your intake of peanuts, junk food, processed refined foods, salt, sugar & white flour.

Use wholemeal or rye flour in place of white flour, reduce caffeine and try blackstrap molasses or pure maple syrup in the place of sugar.


Apples, berries, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruit contain flavonoids which are a powerful antioxidant

Ripe tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon contain lycopene- found to have protective effects against prostate cancer

Onions and garlic contain sulphur, which stimulate the body’s immune system and may prevent tumor growth. Recent research found that those who are more than one serving of garlic (one clove) a week were 35% less likely to get colon cancer than those who are none.

Green tea appears to reduce the formation of carcinogens, increase the body’s natural defenses and suppress cancer promotion.

Brazil nuts, seafood, fish, bread, wheat bran, wheat germ, oats and brown rice all provide extremely valuable selenium. But the selenium contained in the plant does depend on the selenium levels in the soil.

Drink vegetable and fruit juices. Try beetroot, carrot, cabbage, asparagus, apple etc. Also grape, black cherry or black currant juices are good options. Try mixing fruit juices 50:50 with water.

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