I know your type. You don’t smoke, you get semi-regular exercise, you don’t live inside of a nuclear power plant; you think your risk for cancer is practically nil right? Wrong. (Author’s note: if you do not match the above criteria, then you probably have bigger things to worry about) While not being a magnet for cancer is always a good thing, it does not mean that you are doing all you can to avoid it. Almost 90% of cancers are caused by environmental factors, and the World Cancer Research fund estimates that 30-40% of those cases are caused by diet. Therefore, if you are not actively pursuing a cancer free diet then you are ignoring roughly one third of the causes of this disease, increasing the likelihood of various cancers, including everything from Colon Cancer to Peritoneal Mesothelioma. That’s a scary thought. Thankfully, the information needed to help develop a cancer-free diet is out there (don’t worry, you’re still allowed to have carbs).

Some of the major components of a cancer-free diet are fruits and vegetables. Studies from the Journal of Nutrition show that fruits and vegetables can lower cancer rates by as much as 22%. As fruits and vegetables, especially green, orange and yellow ones, contain antioxidants, they are invaluable in that they work with your body to repair damaged cells. This helps heal the body at a rapid rate that discourages cancer development.  When picking out vegetables look for a variety of color. There is no need to worry about convenience as frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones. Darker fruits such as blueberries and blackberries are especially good for cancer prevention as they are high in nutrients such as vitamin C.

Now that we know what to increase, it’s important to note what types of food need to be limited in a healthy diet. Just as you should take in more produce, it is important to limit red meat in your diet. As red meat often contains animal fat, which increases the risk of several types of cancer, it is imperative that you cut that out of your diet as much as possible. Animal fats are shown to contain carcinogens called heterocyclic amines, which, with a high presence in your diet can increase the likelihood of cancer from 17 to 19 percent.  Leaner meats such as poultry and fish as well as grains and hearty vegetables can act as a substitute for the proteins and fiber one would get from red meat.

One of the great things about cancer research is that it is constantly yielding new information on the causes of cancer and ways to prevent it. One of the more recent findings is the discovery that flavonoids (nutrients that give foods a bitter taste) may help inhibit tumor invasion! With all this new information flooding in, dietary research should be a frequent practice. I implore you to look into it regularly. There are no guarantees in preventing cancer, but being aware of your eating habits will bring your risk a little closer to nil.

I am a recent college graduate from the University of Central Florida. I majored in English, and was a part of several health and fitness clubs including the sports medicine team. I have always been fascinated by the body and have been looking to promote the benefits of living a healthy, active lifestyle. Contact Leroy at lifeasleroy@gmail.com.

Editor’s Note:  Guest posts are always welcome. Please check the “Guest Submission”  tab at the top of this blog for more information. Facts, opinions and research presented by guest bloggers cannot substitute for a visit to your family doctor.