Thursday, 5 March 2015


“We think fast food is equivalent to pornography, nutritionally speaking.” - Steve Elbert

Ever-increasing amounts of data from dietary and scientific research indicate that the foods we eat can influence whether or not certain types of cancer develop in our body. It is generally believed by experts in the field, that high energy and high fat diets, which can lead to obesity, increase the risk of some cancers. Conversely, diets rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains help to prevent cancer. 

Diet is just one of the lifestyle factors that can influence one’s risk of developing cancer. Smoking, obesity, alcohol, sun exposure and physical activity levels are also important.

Here are the leading cancers in Western countries like Australia, USA, Western Europe and how diet influences their development:

Lung cancer is the number one cause of death from cancer in the world today and cigarette smoking is mostly responsible for its development in the body. There is evidence that diets high in vegetables and fruits are protective against lung cancer. Compounds called carotenoids (present in significant amounts in fruits and vegetables), as well as vitamin E, are responsible for some of this anti-cancer effect. The use of antioxidant supplements (beta-carotene and vitamin E tablets), has not been proven to be effective in either prevention or treatment of lung cancer and may, in fact, increase the risk of developing cancer in those who smoke.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in the world. There is an increased risk of breast cancer with factors such as rapid early growth, greater adult height and weight gain in adulthood. Much of the risk of developing breast cancer involves factors that influence oestrogen levels during a woman’s reproductive life, such as age of menarche (first period), number of pregnancies and breastfeeding practices. Obese postmenopausal women have more than twice the average risk of breast cancer. Diets high in mono-unsaturated fat and high in vegetables and fruits may reduce the risk, while alcohol consumption increases the risk.

Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of death of men in Australia. Vegetables, pulses (beans -soy in particular), seafood may decrease the risk, while a high fat diet that comprises mostly animal fat sources (such as dairy products, fatty meats and takeaway foods) may increase the risk. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, tomato-based products, watermelon and strawberries. It may also help lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the world. Up to 70 per cent of cases can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity and a diet high in vegetables and fibre are protective, while a high red meat intake (especially processed meat) and alcohol may increase the risk.

In order to reduce your overall cancer risk, you should try to eat less of these foods:
Fatty processed red meats
Highly processed foods that are low in fibre
Heavily salted and pickled foods.

And eat more of these foods:
Vegetables, especially raw vegetables or salads
Leafy green vegetables
Citrus fruits
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and other Asian greens.
Include more of these vegetables and fruits in your diet along with other varieties. Seasonal vegetables and fruits and a variety of these through the year is better than having “an apple a day”…

Eating seven or more serves daily of a variety of grains, grain products, legumes, roots and tubers will also provide protective benefits against cancer. The less processed the grains, the better. Diets high in refined starch and refined sugar may increase the risk of stomach cancer and bowel cancer.

Results of studies that show a protective effect of foods containing certain nutrients should not be taken to mean that these nutrients, when isolated and taken as supplements, will provide the same benefits for cancer prevention. In some cases, there has been an increased risk of cancer in those people who take supplements!

Consuming alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast and liver. The risk is even greater in those people who smoke. Alcohol has also been associated with colon, breast and rectal cancers. Men should drink less than two standard drinks a day and women less than one standard drink a day.


  1. Hello! Great reminder about the foods we should be consuming ~ and those we should avoid! My son (53) was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic last August and prescribed two medications. We drastically altered our 'life plan' and as a result he is off one of the meds, his glucose readings are in the normal range, he has dropped 30+ pounds (I've shed weight as well) ~~ what we consume makes all the difference. We were exercise people before all of this and that helped tremendously.

  2. Excellent post and worthy of posting up on the fridge door! Thanks.