Although some foods are believed to help fight cancer, others are thought to increase the risk of developing cancer. High intakes of fat have been linked with certain types of cancer. Saturated fats, most of which are derived from animal sources, are of particular concern. Some studies have linked diets high in animal fat, milk and protein to cancers of the colon, prostate, breasts and ovaries. A reduction of fatty foods in the diet may reduce the risk of these cancers.
Salt-cured and pickled meats and fish contain nitrates that have been linked to cancer of the stomach and oesophagus, while smoked and charred meats (from barbecue cooking) contain carcinogens similar to those found in tobacco smoke.
Mounting evidence from research suggests that alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer for women; the World Cancer Research Fund advises women to consume no more than one unit of alcohol a day (a unit is a small glass of wine, one shot of spirit, or half a pint of beer). It is believed that the equivalent of two units of alcohol a day causes a shift in oestrogen hormones in pre-menopausal women. Breast tissue is extremely sensitive to oestrogen and certain types of oestrogen are known to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Studies also show that smokers who consume even a moderate amount of alcohol increase their risk of mouth and throat cancers.
Foods to Prevent Cancer
Fruit and vegetables are regarded as the best foods to help prevent cancer. Vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli contain protective phytonutrients, while carrots, tomatoes and apricots contain vitamins and minerals which counteract the harmful effect of free radicals.