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Nutrition experts reveal 4 foods to avoid to lower cancer risk

These nutrition experts have a T-bone to pick with four kinds of foods — and one type of beverage — they say can lead to cancer.
Studies have shown that a person’s diet can affect their chances of developing several types of cancer, with experts promoting the consumption of whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans to lower the risk.
“People should aim to eat more nutrient-rich food by eating at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables each day, choosing whole-grain versions of food, [legumes] like beans and lentils, and unsalted nuts and seeds,” nutritionist Matthew Lambert, the health information and promotion manager at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), told the Daily Mail this week.
“These types of food are higher in nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber — which, among other things, is important in lowering the risk of bowel cancer,” Lambert added.
4 Studies have shown that a person’s diet can affect their chances of developing several types of cancer, with experts promoting the consumption of whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans to lower the risk. Getty Images/iStockphoto
Lambert also shared his no-no list, which includes processed meat, alcohol, red meat and sugary and fried food.
Processed meat
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans,” noting that there is “sufficient evidence from epidemiological studies that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”
Processed meat has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked or prepared in a different way to enhance flavor or improve preservation, according to the WHO, which reports that some of these cooking methods can generate potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
Examples of processed meat include hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef and beef jerky.
4 The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has raised concerns about red meat and processed meat. Getty Images
“The increase in risk of cancer with processed meat is quite modest,” Dr. Duane Mellor, a British Dietetic Association (BDA) spokesperson, told the Daily Mail. “The risk quoted at 18% for every 50 [grams] extra of bacon or sausages sounds large, but per 1,000 people it might represent an extra two cases of colon cancer in those eating processed red meat.”
The American Heart Association recommends limiting processed meat to 100 grams a week, which is about two servings.
The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests swapping deli meats and cold cuts for fresh chicken or fish; bacon, chorizo or salami for spicy vegetarian sausages; and sausage in chili and soups for kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils.
Alcohol
Drinking alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth and throat, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, liver and breast, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“When it comes to alcohol, there are no health benefits to drinking,” Lambert said. “As even small amounts of alcohol can increase cancer risk, we recommend not drinking any alcohol. For some cancer types, alcohol is particularly harmful if you also smoke.”
The National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention advises women to limit alcohol to one drink a day, while men should not drink more than two a day. Adults over 65 should not have more than one drink a day.
4 Drinking alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth and throat, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, liver and breast, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getty Images/iStockphoto
Red meat
Also in 2015, the IARC declared that red meat — such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat — is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
“The strongest, but still limited, evidence for an association with eating red meat is for colorectal cancer. There is also evidence of links with pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer,” IARC researchers wrote about their decision at the time.
Lambert explained that meat contains heme iron, which can facilitate the production of potentially carcinogenic chemicals.
“Heme, which contains iron and gives red meat its color,” Lambert said, “can trigger the formation of cancer-causing compounds which have been shown to damage the lining of the bowel, which may then increase bowel cancer risk.”
The WCRF recommends limiting red meat consumption to three portions per week, which is the equivalent of about 350 grams to 500 grams.
Sugary and fried food
4 “We advise that people eat less overly processed, high in saturated fat, sugar and salt food. This includes food like cakes, biscuits, pastries, [chips], sugar-sweetened drinks and fast food like pizza and burgers,” one nutritionist said. Getty Images/iStockphoto
Being overweight or obese has been associated with a higher risk for 13 types of cancer, according to the CDC.
“We advise that people eat less overly processed, high in saturated fat, sugar and salt food. This includes food like cakes, biscuits, pastries, [chips], sugar-sweetened drinks and fast food like pizza and burgers,” Lambert told the Daily Mail.
“While there is no evidence that confectionary can directly cause cancer, as small amounts can contain a lot of calories and can be easy to overconsume, they can lead to weight gain over time,” he added.

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