What Role for Diet in Cancer Prevention?

August 1, 2005

What is the evidence that diet can reduce or increase the risk of common cancers? Is this evidence strong enough to warrant counseling patients to follow particular dietary guidelines?

What is the evidence that diet can reduce or increase the risk of common cancers? Is this evidence strong enough to warrant counseling patients to follow particular dietary guidelines?

- MD

Obesity, a marker of a positive energy balance, is strongly related to the risk of cancer.1 As for specific foods, alcohol and red meat are the two that have been most often associated with cancer.1 When you counsel patients, it is advisable to take into account the effects of diet on all chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes, as well as cancer. With this broader aim in mind, there is sufficient and strong evidence to advise patients to maintain or achieve a healthful body weight; exercise regularly; eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes; avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars; and avoid or reduce consumption of red meat.

- Karin B. Michels, PhD, ScD
   Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology,
   and Reproductive Biology
   Harvard Medical School
   Boston

References:

REFERENCE:


1.

Michels KB. The role of nutrition in cancer development and prevention.

Int J Cancer.

2005;114:163-165.

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