Cancer Risk and Fat
While you're opting for more foods with cancer-fighting properties, you should also keep tabs on your intake of certain foods and other aspects of your overall diet that may actually aid cancer's growth or development and do your best to limit these. Adding potentially helpful foods and losing possible dietary dangers can equal a more cancer-protective diet all around.
Fat is Where It's At
Fat has been found guilty of contributing to the development of a number of diseases, and cancer is no exception. High-fat diets have been linked to an increase in the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, prostate, and endometrium. At one time, the breast-cancer link was just as strong; however, the prestigious Nurses' Health Study at Harvard refuted this link when researchers found no difference in cancer risk between those eating 50 percent of their calories from fat and those consuming less than 30 percent.
Scientists are unclear, however, about how high-fat diets are involved in cancer risk. It may be the total amount of fat, the type of fat, the calories contributed by fat, some other factor associated with high-fat foods, or a combination of these factors. For example, fats such as the saturated fat in meats, the omega-3 fats in fish, and the monounsaturated fats in olive oil likely differ in their effects on cancer risk. Cooking methods used for higher-fat foods, such as meats, may be a factor. In addition, high-fat diets tend to be high in calories, which often leads to unwanted weight gain.
Overweight and obese individuals are at higher risk for developing several types of cancer.
Even if fat does affect cancer risk, it's not as a cause but rather as a promoter of the disease. That means it enhances the action of true carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke. Experts generally echo the advice given to prevent other chronic diseases -- limit fat intake to less than 30 percent of calories. Consistent with guidelines for lowering heart-disease risk, you are wise to substitute monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, for some of the saturated fats in your diet (check food labels), choose smaller portions of meats, and eat more plant-based foods.
The Calorie Conundrum
It may sound a bit absurd to say calories can cause cancer. After all, you can't stop eating. But research does suggest that an excess of calories is cancer-promoting, while being slightly underweight affords protection. This may even be a crucial part of the fat connection, considering that a gram of fat is higher in calories than a gram of carbohydrate or protein.
Being overweight is associated with higher rates of several types of cancer, including cancers of the breast (among post-menopausal women), colon, endometrium, esophagus, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney. The best way to achieve a healthy weight is to balance energy taken in (from food calories) with energy expended (through physical activity). In fact, there is strong evidence that getting regular physical activity may reduce the risk of breast and colon cancers, and perhaps other types, as well. Adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five or more days each week; 45 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous activity five or more days per week may further reduce breast- and colon-cancer risk.
There are plenty of other foods to avoid if you want to decrease your risk of cancer. In the next ection, we will look at the risks involved when you consume nitrates, mutagens, or alcohol.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.