Unfortunately, a typical South Asian lifestyle includes many of the foods and lifestyle habits associated with increased cancer risk. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) have published 10 steps to lowering cancer risk. (If you are a cancer survivor, you should also follow these recommendations.)
Maintain Normal Body Weight
Being overweight or obese is strongly correlated with cancer risk. Abdominal or belly fat in particular releases hormones and other substances that not only raise diabetes and heart disease risk, but also may contribute to cancer.
Stay Physically Active
Increased physical activity has been shown to lower cancer risk.
Limit Consumption of Energy-Dense Foods
Energy-dense foods are those that are rich in calories, such as refined carbohydrates and foods containing added sugar and fat.
Avoid Sugary Drinks
Avoid sodas, fruit juices, and other sugary beverages. Drink water as your primary beverages, approximately eight glasses per day.
Eat a Plant Based Diet
Two-thirds of your plate should be filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. A plant-based diet is also high in fiber, which reduces cancer risk.
Limit Red Meat and Avoid Processed Meats
Red meat includes beef, lamb, pork and goat. Don't consume more than 18 ounces of red meat per week. Processed meats (smoked or cured meats) should be avoided altogether, because they can increase cancer risk in any portion.
Limit Alcoholic Drinks
Alcohol intake is associated with cancer risk. In general, men should not have more than two drinks per day and women should not have more than one drink.
Limit Consumption of Salt
Excess salt raises blood pressure and may increase the risk of stomach cancer. Limit salt to less than 2,400 milligrams per day.
Meet Nutritional Needs Through Diet, Not Supplements
Dietary supplements and multivitamins are no substitute for healthy eating. The vitamins and minerals provided by pills have not been shown to prevent cancer.
Exclusively Breastfeed Infants (No Other Liquids) for Up to Six Months
Breastfeeding appears to protect both mother and baby from cancer.
Last Reviewed: 2012
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