April is Cancer Control Month. Of course, my preference, and I assume yours, is to Prevent Cancer. So, even though February is National Cancer Prevention Month, we will focus on Prevention now. This week: Nutrition Tips to decrease your risk. Next week: Exercise Tips to decrease your risk.
Vegetables. You knew that would be the first item on the list. But why?
- Fiber: When fiber ferments in the intestines it produces a protective fatty acid called butyrate. Simply put, butyrate interacts with our genes to slows/stops the growth of cancer cells in the colon.
- Folic Acid: This nutrient, in dark green vegetables (and dried peas/beans) is associated with decreased risk of cervical dysplasia (a precursor of cervical cancer).
- Vitamins and Antioxidants: You've seen the research already. I won't go into details.
- A few research stats: "More than 200 studies have examined the relationships between fruits and vegetables and cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, colon, lung, bladder, breast, cervix and ovary...for most cancers, low intakes doubled risk compared to high intakes...effects generally remained significant even after controlling for smoking...and fat or energy intake." And the protective impact was more with vegetables than with fruits. So eat both, but focus on the vegetables. (Janet Friedmann, Ph.D., R.D. Vanderbilt Center for Human Nutrition.)
Fish. Specifically wild caught salmon (a couple of servings per week) has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer in the prostate, digestive organs, pancreas and ovaries. Also, selenium, an element found in seafood, may protect against breast cancer. But make sure you are not creating another issue by increasing your mercury content. I personally order from Vital Choice because of how they ensure safety.
Cooking Methods. I know that the outdoor grilling season is almost here. Be careful not to char your food. And if you do splurge on a char-grilled burger, increase your vegetable servings at that meal...bell peppers, broccoli/carrot slaw, etc.
For more information, go to the American Cancer Society or Vital Choice websites.