Cancer and nutrition

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. studies suggest that simple lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, can prevent 30-50% of all cancers. Growing evidence suggests certain eating habits increase or reduce your risk of cancer. Furthermore, nutrition is believed to play an important role in treating and dealing with cancer.

Eating too many foods can increase your risk of cancer

It is difficult to prove that certain foods cause cancer. However, observational studies have repeatedly suggested that high consumption of certain foods may increase the risk of cancer.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates

Processed foods that are high in sugar, low fiber and nutrients have been linked to a higher risk of cancer.

In particular, researchers have found that a diet that causes high blood glucose levels is associated with an increased risk of multiple cancers, including cancers of the stomach, breast, colon and rectum.

A study of more than 47,000 adults found that those who ate a diet that had a high percentage of refined carbohydrates were nearly twice as likely to die of colon cancer as those who ate a diet low in refined carbohydrates.

High blood glucose and insulin levels are thought to be risk factors for cancer. Insulin has been shown to stimulate cell division, support the growth and proliferation of cancer cells and make it more difficult to get rid of them.

In addition, high levels of insulin and blood glucose can contribute to inflammation in the body. In the long run, this can lead to abnormal cell growth and may contribute to cancer.

This may be why people with diabetes — a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels and insulin levels — have an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

For example, your risk of colorectal cancer increases by 22% if you have diabetes.

To protect against cancer, reduce or avoid foods that boost insulin levels, such as foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Processed meat

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers processed meat as a carcinogen – which causes cancer.

Processed meat refers to meat that has been processed to preserve flavor by undergoing salinization, processing or smoking. It includes sausages, bacon, sausage, luncheon and some other meats.

Observational studies have found a link between eating processed meat and an increased risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. A major review of studies found that people who ate large amounts of processed meat had a 20-50% higher risk of colorectal cancer, compared to those who ate very little or nothing of this type of food.

Another review of more than 800 studies found that consuming only 50 grams of processed meat each day – about four slices of bacon or sausage – increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

Some observational studies have also linked red meat consumption to an increased risk of cancer.

However, these studies often do not distinguish between processed meat and unprocessed red meat, resulting in misrepresentation of results. Many reviews that have collected the results of multiple studies have found that evidence linking unprocessed red meat to cancer is weak and inconsistent.

Cooked food

Cooking certain foods at high temperatures, such as grilling and frying, can produce harmful compounds such as heterogeneous amines (HA). Excessive accumulation of these harmful compounds can contribute to inflammation and may play a role in the development of cancer and other diseases.

Certain foods, such as animal foods that are high in fat and protein, as well as highly processed foods, are likely to produce these harmful compounds when exposed to high temperatures.

These meats, especially red meats, include cheese, fried eggs, butter, margarine, cheese, mayonnaise and oils.

To reduce the risk of cancer, avoid burning food and choose nice cooking methods, especially when cooking meat, such as steam, cooking or boiling. Seasoning can also help reduce the risk of cancer.

Dairy products

Several observational studies have suggested that high consumption of dairy products may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

One study followed nearly 4,000 men with prostate cancer. The results show that eating large amounts of whole milk increases the risk of cancer developing and death.

However, more research is always needed to determine the cause and possible outcome.

Theories suggest that these results are due to increased calcium intake, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) or estrogen hormones from pregnant cows – all of which are weakly associated with prostate cancer.

Overweight or obesity linked to increased risk of cancer

Unlike smoking and infection, obesity is the world’s largest cancer risk factor.

Obesity may increase the risk of 13 different types of cancer, including esophagus, colon, pancreas and kidneys, as well as postmenopausal breast cancer.

In the United States, weight problems are estimated to account for 14% and 20% of all cancer deaths among men and women, respectively.

Obesity can increase your risk of cancer in three main ways:

  1. Excess body fat can contribute to insulin resistance. As a result, your cells are unable to eat glucose properly, encouraging them to divide faster.
  2. Obese people tend to have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines in the blood, causing chronic inflammation, encouraging cells to divide and eventually form cancer.
  3. Fat cells contribute to increased estrogen levels, which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women.

The good news is that many studies have shown that weight loss among overweight and obese people is likely to reduce the risk of cancer.

Some foods have anti-cancer properties

There is not a single superfood that can prevent cancer. Instead, a comprehensive dietary approach is likely to be more beneficial. Scientists estimate that eating the optimal cancer diet may reduce the risk of infection by up to 70% and is likely to help recover from cancer as well.

Scientists believe that certain foods can fight cancer by blocking the blood vessels that feed the cancer in a process called vascular formation.

However, nutrition is complex, and the effectiveness of certain foods in fighting cancer varies depending on how they are grown, processed, stored and cooked.

Some of the major anti-cancer food groups include:


Observational studies have linked higher vegetable consumption to a lower risk of cancer. Many vegetables contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that are resistant to cancer. For example, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, a substance that has been shown to reduce tumor size in mice by more than 50%.

Other vegetables, such as tomatoes and carrots, are associated with a lower risk of prostate and stomach cancer and lung cancer.


Similar to vegetables, fruits contain antioxidants and other plant chemicals, which may help prevent cancer. One review found that at least three servings of citrus fruits per week reduced the risk of stomach cancer by 28%.


Flaxseed has been associated with protective effects against certain cancers and may even reduce the spread of cancer cells.

For example, one study found that men with prostate cancer who take 30 grams of ground flaxseed per day suffer from slower growth and cancer prevalence than others and similar results were found in women with breast cancer.


Some studies of the test tube and animals have found that cinnamon may have anti-cancer properties and prevent the spread of cancer cells.

In addition, curcumin found in turmeric may help fight cancer. One 30-day study found that 4 grams of curcumin per day reduced potential cancerous lesions in the colon by 40% in 44 people not receiving treatment.

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes are rich in fiber, and some studies suggest that eating more of these nutrients may protect against colorectal cancer.

One study of more than 3,500 people found that people who ate most legumes had a 50% lower risk for certain types of cancers.


Eating nuts regularly may be associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

For example, a study of more than 19,000 people found that those who ate more nuts had a lower risk of dying from cancer


Many studies show a link between olive oil and reduced cancer risk.

A large review of monitoring studies found that people who ate the largest amount of olive oil had a 42% lower risk of cancer than the control group.


Garlic contains allicin, which has been shown to have cancer-resistant properties in laboratory studies and other studies have found a link between garlic intake and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer, including stomach and prostate cancer.


There is evidence that eating fresh fish can help protect against cancer, possibly because of healthy fats that can reduce inflammation. A large review of 41 studies found that eating fish regularly reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 12%.

Dairy products

The majority of evidence suggests that eating certain dairy products may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

The type and quantity of dairy products consumed are important. For example, moderate consumption of high-quality dairy products, such as raw milk, fermented dairy products and milk from grass-fed cows may have a protective effect against cancer. This is most likely due to higher levels of beneficial fatty acids, associated linoleic acid and fat-soluble vitamins.

On the other hand, high consumption of bulk processed dairy products is associated with an increased risk of certain diseases, including cancer. The causes of these results are not fully understood, but may be due to hormones found in milk from pregnant cows or IGF-1.