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How Foods Fight Cancer | Sept. 14, 2011

On a weekly basis, we are bombarded with information about the latest, greatest cancer-fighting super food or supplement.  While many of the featured items may not do all they’re cracked up to, there is some truth to the message:  food really can make a huge difference in the prevention and fight of cancer.


According to the American Cancer Society, one third of all cancer diagnoses are a result of a poor diet and not enough exercise.  That means that 33 percent of the time, we can be proactive in the fight against cancer!


Now the basics of eating to fight cancer are these:

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits or vegetables each day.  A ‘serving’ is considered one medium piece of fruit or vegetable, or ½ cup.  Include as many different colors as possible.  More colors = more nutrients!
  • Whole grains with high amounts of fiber (3 grams or more per serving) can help lower cholesterol and help keep you feeling full.
  • When choosing meat products, aim for items that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.  Poultry, fish, wild game and meat alternatives like beans, quinoa and soy are especially good.  Limit red meat to once a week, and avoid highly processed foods (think items like hot dogs and bologna).


Changing your diet to include more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and meat alternatives can do a lot in the fight against cancer.


While we know that including these items in the diet are good, there are other commonly asked questions about other foods and if they cause cancer or help prevent cancer.  Here are a couple of common questions answered, according to the American Cancer Society.


Q:  Do the sugar substitutes aspartame or saccharin cause cancer?

A:  Currently, there is no connection between aspartame or saccharin and an increased risk of cancer in humans.


Q:  Can soy-based foods reduce cancer risk?

A:  There is not very much evidence to show that soy can help reduce cancer risk.  However, women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer should only eat soy products in moderate amounts, and should avoid consuming high amounts.  Sources that are considered high amounts of soy include pills, powder and supplements.


For more information about cancer and food, please attend Kootenai Medical Center’s Healing Foods – Eating to Prevent Cancer Series.  The series begins Tuesday, September 20th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and will include nutrition information, food demonstrations and tastings.  To register call KMC at (208) 666-2030.  Also, visit www.cancer.gov.