Journal of the American College of Nutrition lists foods to avoid to reduce cancer risk

CINCINNATI - A different day, a different guideline.

With the constant back and forth whiplash of medical and nutritional advice when it comes to foods that can give you cancer and foods that can reduce the risk of disease, it's sometimes difficult to keep your head from spinning.

But a new report published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition helps to weed out some of the confusion and focuses on main food groups and dietary patterns that can reduce the risk of cancer and improve survival rates after a cancer diagnosis.

Their findings are based on a report by the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research.

What did they discover?

Evidence suggests diets emphasizing foods from plant sources - vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes - are associated with lower cancer risk, as well as reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

But this advice isn't something new. We've all been told to eat our fruits and vegetables. What they did uncover, however, is that certain food groups may be linked to certain types of cancer.

Milk and dairy products

Guideline: Limiting or avoiding dairy products may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

After multiple studies researched a link between milk and dairy product consumption to prostate cancer, scientists found that diets high in calcium can cause an increased risk.

Researchers estimated that every 35 grams of dairy protein consumed daily can increase the risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent.

Cutting dairy has other advantages besides reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Limiting saturated fat and cholesterol from dairy foods may decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease. Also, approximately 70 percent of the world's population is lactose intolerant, which causes difficulty in digesting any dairy products. Therefore, losing the cheese and milk could significantly improve digestion issues.

However, reducing or eliminating dairy products may reduce calcium intake if individuals rely on milk and other dairy foods as a primary source of calcium. Solution: dietary calcium can be obtained through green, leafy vegetables, legumes, and calcium-fortified foods, such as non-dairy milks.


Guideline: Limiting or avoiding alcohol may reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, and breast.

Studies found that one alcoholic drink per week increased the risk of mouth, pharynx and larynx cancers by 24 percent. Every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the upper aero-digestive tract by approximately 10 to 15 percent. Once standard beverage holds 13.7 grams of alcohol.

Having one drink per week also increased the risk for esophageal cancer and colorectal cancer.

Research shows a 10 percent increased risk for breast cancer when 10 grams of ethanol are consumed on a daily basis.

The advantages to avoiding alcohol, besides lowering cancer risk, is a lowered chance of developing of cirrhosis of the liver and hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatitis, pregnancy complications, obesity, accidents and suicide.

Red and processed meat

Guideline: Avoiding red and processed meat may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

Research finds that with every 120 grams of red meat consumed on a daily basis, the risk of cancer increases by an estimated 28 percent. With every 50 grams of processed meat consumed on a daily basis, cancer risk increases by 21 percent.

Other than reducing cancer risk, avoiding red and processed meats may also reduce the risk of diabetes, hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Meats cooked at high temperature

Guideline: Avoiding grilled, fried, and broiled meats may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas. In this context, meat refers to red meat, poultry, and fish.

Four heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are listed by the National Toxicology Program as a human carcinogen. These compounds are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum.

HCA's form from creatine and amino acids in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing in concentration with longer cooking times and higher temperatures.

When HCA is consumed, DNA synthesis can be disrupted. This may lead to the increased risk of cancer.

Another advantage of avoiding grilled, broiled, and fried meats? It can reduce saturated fat and cholesterol intake, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Soy products

Consumption of soy products during adolescence may reduce the risk of breast cancer arising in adulthood. Soy products may also reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer.

In recent studies, Chinese women who consumed more than 11.3 grams of soy protein on a daily basis during adolescence, compared to less than 2.7 grams, had a 43 percent reduced risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.

The equivalent of 1 cup of fortified soy milk, a half cup of tofu, or a half cup of cooked soybeans is approximately 10 grams of soy protein.

The same study found a significant link in women who consumed more than 12.8 grams of soy protein on a daily basis throughout adulthood, compared to 4.9 grams or less, showing a 59 percent reduced risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.

In another study, the effect of soy products on breast cancer recurrence and survival showed that 11 grams of soy protein consumed every day reduced mortality and recurrence by about 30 percent.

Other benefits of eating soy is improved bone health and reduced fracture risk in women.

Fruits and vegetables

Guideline: Emphasizing fruits and vegetables in your diet will likely reduce the risk of several common forms of cancer.

Study after study shows a link between consuming fruits and vegetables with lowering the risk of several types of cancers, such as esophageal, colorectal, lung, stomach and gastric.

For the full research article by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, CLICK HERE.


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