Recommendations

Rationale

Notes

Eat fruits and vegetables.
5-9 servings/day

A plant-based diet provides a bevy of cancer-preventing phytochemicals, beneficial fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are especially beneficial.

Eat a low-fat diet; replace bad fats with good fats.
Fat calorie intake should be no more than 20-30 percent of daily calories.

There is a strong correlation between fat consumption and cancer, particularly breast, colon, prostate, rectum and uterine-lining cancers. However, not all fats are bad and some are necessary for bodily functions and may even be protective against cancer.

Replace bad fats (saturated, hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats) with good fats (omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish and omega-9s found in canola and olive oils). Spinach and mustard greens are sources of linolenic acid, which is converted to omega-3 fatty acids in the body.

Get plenty of fiber.
20-30 g/day

Fiber helps move food through the system efficiently, thereby reducing the gastrointestinal tract's exposure to potential carcinogens. High-fiber diets are linked to lower risks of breast, colon and rectum cancers.

Fiber sources include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Increase fiber in your diet gradually to avoid bloating and flatulence.

Eat soy.
1-2 servings/day

Soy foods are rich in isoflavones. These compounds can block estrogen receptors, which stimulate certain cancers.

There are numerous soy products to choose from, including fresh soy beans, tofu, soy milk and tempeh. Discuss soy consumption with your doctor if you have a history of breast cancer.

Try beans
(black, garbanzo, kidney and pinto, to name a few).

Beans are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.

This low-fat meat substitute is a staple for many vegetarians.

Look for copper.
(0.9 mg/day)

Adequate copper in a balanced diet reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Food sources include oysters, nuts, seeds and chocolate.

Eliminate or minimize alcohol consumption.
Limit to one 1-oz drink/day for women, two for men.

Alcohol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, which has slight carcinogenic activity.

Combined with smoking, excessive drinking doubles the risk of certain cancers.

Steer clear of cured meat
(check the label—nitrites must be listed if used).

Nitrosamines (nitrites) present in preserved meats have proven to be potent carcinogens.

Dietary vitamin C can help neutralize nitrosamines.

Minimize exposure to xenoestrogens, pesticides and artificial additives.

Although carcinogenic pesticides have been banned in the U.S., they can still turn up on imported produce or in trace amounts from farms where the chemicals were once used.

Avoid fish caught in PCB-contaminated waters. Choose certified organic foods to avoid the risk altogether.

Avoid plastic packaging.

Benzene and DEHA are two suspected carcinogens present in many plastic wraps and packages. These chemicals can migrate from packaging into meat, poultry, cheese and other foods.

Avoid microwaving foods in plastic wrapping or plastic containers such as Tupperware.