Unhealthy lifestyles are to blame for 2,500 UK cancer cases a week as experts say the disease is not simply genetic
Research has discovered that more than 2,500 cancer cases diagnosed weekly in the UK are preventable by making simple lifestyle changes.
Almost four in ten of all cancers could be avoided by switching to a healthier diet, doing more exercise and giving up smoking.
Of the 360,000 new cases diagnosed in 2015, about 135,500 could have been prevented, according to Cancer Research UK.
Experts say it is further evidence that cancer is largely down to environmental factors and not simply caused by genes or ‘bad luck’.
While smoking is still the biggest avoidable cause, accounting for three in every 20 cases, doctors say weight-related cancer is fast catching up.
The Top Cancer Fighting Foods To Include In Your Diet
The food we eat can affect our risk of developing cancer, both directly and by helping us keep a healthy weight.
Keeping a healthy weight is the second best thing you can do to cut the risk of cancer, after not smoking.
Some of the same foods that can affect your body weight can also directly affect cancer risk.
Try to make these foods a part of your new diet regime
High fiber foods like wholegrain foods, pulses, fruits and vegetables can also reduce the risk of cancer.
Some foods, such as processed and red meat and salt-preserved foods, can increase the risk of developing cancer.
While others, such as fruits, vegetables and foods high in fibre, can reduce the risk of cancer.
The top cancer fighting foods
Top Cancer Causing Foods
Cancer causing foods include
After following over 519,978 participants living in 10 European nations, results showed that those who most closely followed a style of eating similar to the Mediterranean diet were the most protected.
Red and processed meat intake, alcohol intake, unhealthy body mass index (BMI), and abdominal obesity were associated with an increased risk.
Being physically active and obtaining enough vitamin D also helped lower cancer susceptibility.
The Mediterranean diet
- Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
- Eat in Moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
- Eat Only Rarely: Red meat.
- Don’t Eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.
Exactly which foods belong in the Mediterranean diet is controversial, partly because there is such variety between different countries.
The diet prescribed in the studies is high in plant foods, and relatively low in animal foods. However, eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week.
Many studies have been conducted looking at the association between diet and cancer, and experts agree that the food we eat can directly affect our risk of cancer.
Foods, such as processed and red meat, also salt-preserved foods, have been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer.
Cancer fighting foods such as fruits, vegetables and foods high in fiber, can reduce the risk of cancer.
A study from 1996, published in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reviewed 94 studies and found that consumption of these vegetables indicated a decreased risk of both primary and secondary cancers.
70% of cabbage studies showed a decrease in cancer risk when eaten regularly.
Other notables include cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts studies that reported 67%, 56% and 29% relationship with decreased cancer risk, respectively.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet also helps maintain healthy body weight.
Obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.
Struggling to eat your five a day? Now experts recommend ten!
Five portions of fruit and vegetables has been the official advice for years. But now experts are recommending ten portions of fruit and vegetables are preferable to ward off cancer and disease.
Researchers from Imperial College London found that ten 80g portions of fruit and veg can cut the risk of cancer by 13% and heart disease by 24% and could prevent 7,200 cancer deaths and almost 14,000 from strokes every year.
Dr Dagfinn Aune stated: “Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system.
This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.
I think people should try to do better than five if they can. There do seem to be benefits from a higher intake.”
The researchers analysed data from 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake, finding that ten servings cut the risk of dying prematurely by almost a third. The United Kingdom NHS state that fruit and vegetables can be juiced, canned or frozen.
Cancers linked to poor diet and foods to eat and avoid include
Fruit and vegetables
These are an important part of a healthy diet and are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Cancer fighting foods such as fruits and vegetables are also relatively low in calories.
- Processed meat includes ham, bacon, salami and sausages.
- Red meat includes all fresh, minced and frozen beef, pork and lamb.
Fresh white meat (such as chicken) and fish are not linked with an increased risk of cancer and are listed along with other cancer fighting foods listed.
Some chemicals are a natural part of the meat, and others are made when the meat is preserved or cooked at high temperatures.
Red meat (including processed red meat) contains a naturally occurring red pigment called haem.
Haem could irritate or damage cells in the body or fuel the production of harmful chemicals by bacteria, which could lead to a higher risk of cancer.
Chemicals called nitrates are often used to preserve processed meat. Nitrites can be converted into cancer-causing chemicals called N-nitroso compounds (NOCs) within the the body
Cooking meat at high temperatures such as grilling or barbecuing can produce cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic amines (PCAs).
Many studies show that cancer fighting foods high in fiber reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrain foods, but the strongest evidence is for whole-grains.
Fiber may also help gut bacteria produce helpful chemicals that change the conditions in the bowel. Fiber can lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol, and may even prevent colon cancer and help you avoid hemorrhoids. If it were a drug, the world would be clamoring for it.
Women should get about 25 grams a day and men at least 35 to 40, but the average person gets just 15 grams a day. Eating fiber-rich whole food is the best way to increase your fiber intake.
Salt can increase stomach cancer risk by damaging the stomach lining, which causes inflammation, or by making the stomach lining more sensitive to cancer-causing chemicals.
Salt-preserved foods include pickled vegetables, salted fish and cured meats.
The strongest evidence is for salt-preserved foods and mainly those commonly eaten in East Asia.
The evidence linking total added salt in the diet and stomach cancer is less conclusive.
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References for cancer fighting foods
1. Cancer Research U.K.
2. World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Second Expert Report: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.; 2007.
3. Schuz J, Espina C, Villain P, et al. European code against cancer 4th edition: 12 ways to reduce your cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol. 2015;39:S1-S10.
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