Cancer-Proof Your Diet
Alcohol “We know that breast cancer in particular responds to alcohol in a negative way—possibly because excess alcohol can raise estrogen levels,” says Carolyn Lammersfeld, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., CNSC, national director of nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “Alcohol also contains a variety of chemicals that may have a carcinogenic effect.” Limit yourself to one glass a day.
Red meat A 2006 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who ate 1 1∕2 servings or more per day of beef, lamb or pork had nearly double the risk of hormone-receptor positive breast cancer when compared with those who ate red meat just three times a week. If the meat is processed, the risk is even higher: A 2007 study put the number at 64 percent for women eating bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausages or other meats that may contain added sodium or nitrates. Eat meat sparingly, if at all, and stick to chicken, fish and turkey.
Sugar Skip added sugars in all forms, including sweetened and processed foods and drinks. “The link between cancer and sugar isn’t clear, but there’s an indirect link in that foods high in sugar tend to be high in calories and may lead to excessive weight gain,” says Doyle. Individuals who get a lot of processed sugar in their diets also tend to miss out on nutrient-rich whole foods that are linked to cancer protection.
Dairy It’s easy to see how cakes, candies, cookies and doughnuts fall under the “sugars” heading, but Abrams adds dairy to the list. “Dairy contains simple sugars that the human body was never intended to digest past the age of weaning. Because we don’t digest dairy well, it ends up contributing to inflammation in the body,” he says. Milk, in particular, has been linked to cancers of the breasts, prostate and bladder, as well as lymphoma.