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Protect Yourself: Diet and Cancer

The American Cancer Society has issued several dietary recommendations to improve your odds in cancer prevention. While the Cancer Society has bent risk analysis in some cases, its diet suggestions make basic sense.

  • Avoid obesity. This isn't just the five extra pounds that many people carry around, but being more than 10 percent overweight. Just because McDonald's opens a new restaurant somewhere every eight hours, doesn't mean you should eat there every day.
  • Cut down on total fat intake. Keep saturated fat to a minimum; saturated fats come mostly from animal products, but also come disguised in many processed foods in the form of coconut oil and palm oil. So-called "trans-fatty acids" are a also something to avoid. Foods high in fat may increase cancers of the colon, breast and prostate.
  • Eat more high fiber foods. Most Americans consume eight to 12 grams of fiber a day. The Cancer Society recommends at least twice that amount.
  • Add cruciferous (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) vegetables to your diet. These are good sources of cancer-preventing vitamins A and C. They are also naturally low in fat and contain fair amounts of fiber.
  • Cut down on salt-cured, smoked and nitrite-cured foods. Foods are preserved to protect them from rapid spoilage. Unfortunately, some methods of preservation have been found to be cancer-causing.
  • Keep alcohol consumption moderate. The Cancer Society cites studies that show an increased risk of certain cancers in persons drinking as little as an average of two drinks daily. The risk tends to go up the more you drink.
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