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New Nutrition Guidelines for Preventing Cancer

Your mom always told you to eat your vegetables, and now the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is telling you, too. New research published in the June 30 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows six dietary guidelines that can help lower the risk of cancer, and the overall recommendation is to build your meals around fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

The six guidelines for reducing the risk of various cancers are:

Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Eating 35 grams of dairy protein each day (the equivalent of 1 ½ cups of cottage cheese) increases your risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent. Drinking two glasses of milk daily raises your risk by 60 percent. Men who take more than 400 mg of calcium supplements per day increase their risk of prostate cancer by 51 percent.

Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum and breast

One alcoholic beverage a week increases the risk of oral, pharynx and esophageal cancer by 24 percent. Two to three drinks a day increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

Avoid red and processed meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum

Heme iron, nitrites, heterocyclic amines and excess essential amino acids found in red meat and processed meat are believed to promote cancerous cell growth. Eating 50 grams of processed meat (equivalent to two bacon slices or one sausage link) a day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. A daily 120-gram serving of red meat (approximately a 4-ounce steak) increases your risk by 28 percent.

Avoid grilled, fried and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney and pancreas

Heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, form by the condensation of creatinine with amino acids when meat is cooked at extremely high temperatures. Four types of HCAs are associated with colorectal cancer, and to a weaker extent, cancer of the breast, prostate, kidney and pancreas.

Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer

New evidence shows that Chinese women who consume more than 11.3 grams of soy protein (roughly half a cup of cooked soybeans) have a 43 percent reduced risk of getting breast cancer before menopause. Chinese women with breast cancer who followed the same dietary guidelines reduced their risk of cancer mortality and recurrence by approximately 30 percent. Natural soy-based products, such as edamame, tempeh or organic tofu, are preferable to soy protein isolates and concentrates found in pills and supplements.