ONE in two of us will get cancer at some point in our lives.
With bleak statistics like that, it can feel like cancer is an inevitability.
But some cancers are more avoidable than others, and we can minimise our risk of developing them by changing our diets.
A new study has found that diets may account for 5 per cent of all cancer cases.
That's the same number as those associated with boozing.
Bowel cancer was found to have the highest proportion of diet-related cases, with almost 40 per cent of all cases being linked to poor diets.
That was followed by mouth cancer, with diet being responsible for 25.9 per cent.
Cancers most linked to poor diet:
- Bowel (52,225)
- Mouth, pharynx, and larynx (14,421)
- Womb (3,165)
- Breast (post-menopausal) (3,059)
- Stomach (1,564)
- Liver (1,000)
The biggest dietary danger? Not eating enough whole grains – i.e carbs.
Diet rules to help lower your risk of cancer
- Eat more whole grain (like brown bread, pasta, rice)
- Eat more dairy
- Cut down on processed meat
- Eat more fruit and veg
- Reduce red meat consumption
- Stop drinking sweetned drinks
Of the diet-linked cancer cases, 16 per cent were found in obese patients.
"Our findings underscore the opportunity to reduce cancer burden and disparities in the United States by improving food intake," said study author Fang Fang Zhang, a cancer and nutrition researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.
Low carb, high meat diets are 'killing us'
Fang Fang's team found that there is enough convincing evidence to suggest that a low whole grain, low dairy, high processed meat, high red meat diet increases your risk of bowel cancer.
Not eating enough fruit and veg was linked to mouth cancer, and processed meats increased the likelihood of stomach cancer.
And they also linked drinking sugar-sweetened drinks to obesity, which was associated with 13 types of cancer.
They include bowel, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, multiple myeloma (a kind of blood cancer) and pancreatic cancers.
Which obesity-related cancers are on the rise among young people?
Rates of cancers linked to obesity are rising faster in millennials than any other generation, scientists warned back in February.
Six of 12 obesity-related cancers were found to be on the increase among millennials (aged 23-38).
In fact, Cancer Research UK says that more than one in 20 cancer cases are caused by excess weight in the UK.
- multiple myeloma
According to the American Cancer Society, being overweight or obese has been linked to also increase your risk of other cancers, including:
- non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- upper stomach
- meningioma (a type of brain tumour)
So that list includes two of the most common cancers – breast and bowel – as well as three of the hardest to treat – pancreatic, oesophageal and gallbladder.
So if you want to reduce your cancer risk, you're best off trying to eat as much non-processed, whole food as possible.
Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day and keep your meat consumption to a minimum.
It's all about moderation but just remember, you can never eat enough veg!
It's worth mentioning that obviously, some cancers are totally unavoidable and what you eat won't always stop yourself from developing diseases.
But it's worth giving yourself a chance by filling your body with nutritious foods that are packed with anti-inflammatory properties and disease-busting antioxidants.
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