Heart disease still narrowly leads this country in cause of death for both men and women but all forms of cancer are a very close second.

Lower your cancer risk

Woman Grocery Shopping Vegetables

Heart disease still narrowly leads this country in cause of death for both men and women but all forms of cancer are a very close second. In fact, in 2016 cancer will take almost 596,000 lives, and there will be approximately 1.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed. Gosh, that is a lot of people and their families impacted by cancer.

Researchers from the University of Arizona’s College of Public Health reviewed 12 studies to look at the effectiveness of following cancer prevention guidelines provided by the American Cancer Association and the American Institute of Cancer Research. Here are their conclusions.

An overall healthy lifestyle reduced cancer risk by 45 percent! It was the most effective for breast, endometrial and colon cancers. Those who followed the diet and physical activity guidelines to prevent cancer were 60 percent less likely to die from cancer.

The researchers noted that 20 percent of all cancers are related to choices that we make: too much alcohol, inactivity, poor food choices (processed and refined foods, for example), and excess body weight.

Healthier food choices that may offer cancer protection include:

  • Unrefined grains such as multi-grain pasta, whole-grain cereals like Cheerios, Wheaties and oatmeal, rye and barley
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables such as raspberries and blueberries, cherries and plums, spinach and kale, tomatoes and carrots
  • Less processed red meat such as bacon, sausage and hotdog

Of course, there is also protection from developing cancer with:

  • Daily physical activity like a 30-minute walk
  • Modest alcohol intake if you choose to drink: 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks for men
  • Keeping your waistline trim as you age

The researchers found that the more guidelines that were followed, the lower the risk for developing cancer. The other great thing is that all of these recommendations also lower your risk for heart disease and strokes! So it is wise to engage in as many of these healthy behaviors are possible, and to be the role model for the other members of your family

Cancer prevention guidelines can be found at:

Recipes to try:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.