by Carol Berg Sloan RD
I had dinner with my mom yesterday and she told me that four of her friends had passed away from cancer last month. Unbelievable, but true.
Cancer continues to be a top cause of total mortality for Americans. But we can prevent this disease. I agree with Dr. Walter Willett, a nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health in Massachusetts, who recently told a news conference, “We need to think about cancer as the product of many long-term influences, not as something that “just happens.”
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has released its findings of its second expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.
This publication is the updated version to the initial report published in 1997, which has been the most authoritative source on food, nutrition and cancer prevention for 10 years. The first report became the standard text worldwide for policy-makers in government at all levels, for civil society and health professional organizations and in teaching and research centers of academic excellence.
This publication is a result of a five-year process involving nine independent teams of scientists from around the world and 21 international experts who reviewed and analyzed over 7,000 large-scale studies. The report finds convincing evidence that specific foods and beverages should be limited and identifies a number of lifestyle factors that are cancer-protective.
Based on this comprehensive assessment, the report contains 10 recommendations for cancer prevention drafted by the AICR Expert Panel (see inset).
We have heard it before, but maybe this time we should act on these recommendations…
Summary: Overall Recommendations for Cancer Prevention
1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat).
4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
8. Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer.
Special Population Recommendations
9. It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods.
10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.