A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of cancer. A study shows which foods you should better avoid.
Kassel – Sport and exercise keeps you fit and healthy. Some studies have already shown that the risk of cancer can be reduced as a result. A healthy and balanced diet also has a positive effect on overall well-being and health. In addition to genetic factors, many cancers are also associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. For this reason, experts repeatedly advise people to abstain from alcohol. This is because the consumption of alcohol is closely linked to the increased risk of cancer. Cancer often develops insidiously. However, if there are some cancer symptoms and signs, you should react. Cancer screening can therefore save lives. Preventive measures and early detection can also minimize cancer. An important point here is nutrition.
What role nutrition plays in cancer prevention
"Up to one in three cancers can be traced back to an unfavorable diet and too little exercise," estimates the World Health Organization (WHO). Consequently, obesity and some foods are decisive factors. A study published in the journal eClinicalMedicine – Part of THE LANCET Discovery Science shows how certain foods affect cancer risk.
A large number of cancers can be traced back to an unfavorable diet and too little exercise (symbolic image) © Michael Gstettenbauer/ Imago
Study shows: Highly processed foods promote the risk of cancer
Every year, almost half a million people in Germany are diagnosed with cancer. As the German Cancer Aid writes, diet can have a significant influence on the risk of cancer. According to the study, some would even promote the growth of cancer cells, while others would slow them down.
In the "Lancet study", British researchers examined individual food groups in detail, especially highly or industrially processed foods. The study showed that the more highly processed foods consumed, the higher the risk of cancer. Subjects with the highest consumption had a higher incidence of cancer compared to those with the lowest.
According to Martin Smollich, a nutritionist at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), the result of the study is "very revealing", as he writes on Twitter. "The negative effect of highly processed foods (assuming causality) is essentially an effect of soft drinks and juices. Other products, such as plant-based meat alternatives, do not play a role at all," says the nutritionist.
Cancer risk: Experts warn against sugar-sweetened beverages
Consequently, the results of this study support the findings of the experts at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). The non-profit organization is engaged in cancer prevention research related to diet, weight, and physical activity. For years, they have been making recommendations on how to minimize the risk of cancer.
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For cancer prevention, the researchers recommend limiting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and drinking mainly water or unsweetened beverages. Research has shown that the consumption of these drinks leads to weight gain, overweight and obesity in both children and adults – especially if they are consumed frequently or in large quantities. Fruit juices should also not be consumed in large quantities, as they can promote weight gain, even without added sugar, similar to sugar-sweetened beverages.
"One of the main problems with sugar-sweetened beverages is that they provide energy, but they don't fill you up. This can promote excessive energy expenditure and thus weight gain. This effect is amplified when physical activity is low," said Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific advisor to WCRF.
Prevent cancer: These foods should be included in your daily diet
What experts recommend for cancer prevention and what you should pay attention to, we have summarized below:
- Wholesome nutrition: Eat versatile and varied. Eat predominantly plant-based foods. Lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes should form the basis of the daily diet.
- Less fast food and industrially processed foods: Eat low fat and high-fat foods.
- Little red meat and cured meats: Eat little meat and avoid industrially processed meat. Once or twice a week, a fish meal should be on the table.
- No sodas and sugary drinks: Water, tea or coffee without sugar is better. Fruit juices only in moderation.
- Sugar and salt should be used sparingly.
- Eat slowly: Take your time to eat. Eat with pleasure.
- Active lifestyle: Do sports. A lot of exercise is good for your health. Those who abstain from alcohol and do not smoke can significantly reduce their risk of cancer.
- Source: German Nutrition Society (DGE), European Code Against Cancer, WCRF
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for going to a doctor. Only specialists can make the correct diagnosis and initiate appropriate therapy. The use of medication or dietary supplements should be discussed with a doctor beforehand.
So if you know the risks, you can reduce them. Many dietary supplements can also cause cancer – Stiftung Warentest warns. But there are also many myths and theories about cancer. But only a few are true. (Vivian Werg)