Cancers are becoming one of the leading causes of death in the world, and the World Health Organization estimates that the number of cancer cases will increase by 70% over the next 10 years. The scale is frightening, but even within one family you can try to take steps to minimize the risks of this disease.
Cancer: What is it and what are the risk factors?
Simply put, cancer is a disease in which uncontrolled division and growth of a somatic cell begins. Cancer is the general name for a whole group of cancers that can occur in any part of the body.
There are two main differences between cancer or a malignant tumor and a benign tumor:
- Abnormal cells form quickly and can spread to nearby tissues and organs;
- The appearance of metastases, which become the main cause of death in cancer.
There is a belief that this disease comes out of nowhere and cannot be recognized in its early stages without research. But there are common risk factors that can become triggers:
- Having already had a history of cancer;
- Mature age;
- Being diagnosed with cancer by close relatives;
- Presence of certain viruses in the body (e.g., HPV, hepatitis B and C viruses, presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria);
- General lifestyle factors: unfavorable working conditions, frequent alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of physical activity, poor diet.
According to scientific data, ⅓ of the cancer deaths that occur each year are somehow related to diet and physical activity. So if you change your diet and include activity in your daily routine, you can eliminate some of the risk factors.
Preventing cancer: general dietary guidelines
Preventing cancer, like any other disease, involves a whole set of measures that help minimize these risk factors. In a general sense, a healthy lifestyle can be considered as cancer prevention and nutrition plays a huge role here.
Changing your diet in a week is difficult, so your transition to nutrition can be gradual. Stick to the principle of replacing unhealthy food habits with healthy ones.
Let’s consider these points in more detail.
Unsystematic eating, irregular meals, eating intermittent meals can lead to digestive problems and even IBS in the long run. Try to build a meal schedule and stick to it: let it be 3 meals and a few snacks, but your body must «get used» to the chosen scheme and not experience stress.
Giving up alcohol
It is interesting that not all diets involve a complete rejection of alcohol. For example, in the Mediterranean diet, which is indicated for CVDs, alcohol is allowed in small amounts. But in the case of cancer prevention, everything is clear: even small doses increase the risk of cancer. Therefore, a complete abstinence from alcohol is recommended for cancer prevention.
Limiting the consumption of high-calorie foods
These are the foods that lead to being overweight. If you go back to the beginning of the article, you will see that being overweight is a risk factor. It is also recommended to limit the consumption of pork, beef, lamb; smoked or dried red meat and salty foods in general to prevent cancer. Low-fat white meat and fish are preferred. And also introduce into the diet whole-grain products, which are rich in fiber, and vegetables, fruits, which contain essential antioxidants.
There is an expression «cancer loves sugar,» so our job is to make sure there is less sugar in the diet. Limit foods with added sugar (sugary drinks, pastries). Limit does not mean refuse: you can buy yourself a favorite cupcake or eat a piece of chocolate, but let the main source of sugar in your diet will still be fruits and berries.
You’ve probably noticed that after certain foods you feel heavy in the stomach, dry mouth. Perhaps you’ve experienced more serious symptoms, up to and including diarrhea? Pay attention to what foods your body reacts to and try to limit or eliminate them.
It’s the basics: keep a glass or bottle of water close at hand at all times so you don’t forget to replenish your hydration.
Myths about Cancer Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no scientifically proven diet that cures cancer. Neither is there a «magic pill» or effective supplements. Cancer can only be treated with different types of therapies (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.). The same applies to preventive nutrition: there is no product that will protect against the disease, but there are complexes of foods and measures that help reduce the risks.