Six New Dietary Guidelines to Prevent Cancer Labeled
Seniors warned warn about association between cancer
and alcohol, red and processed meats, dairy products, and carcinogens in
even well-cooked beef, poultry, and fish
July 3, 2014 - Six dietary guidelines, described as
more aggressive than previous cancer prevention advice, have been
released by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a
nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine
These cancer prevention guidelines, emphasizing a
diet rich in plant-based foods, such as soy beans and cruciferous,
allium, and carotenoid vegetables, are based on the principle that diet
changes are justified, even when evidence on certain issues are up for
debate, according to the group’s news release.
Their recommendations, they say, urge the same kind
of precautionary approach health experts took against tobacco decades
earlier, before smoking bans were enforced, and warn about the
association between cancer and alcohol, red and processed meats, dairy
products, and carcinogens in well-cooked meats, including beef, poultry,
“The key recommendation is to build meals around
fruits, vegetables, and legumes,” says study author Neal Barnard, M.D.,
president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee and an adjunct associate
professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of
Medicine and Health Sciences.
“Plant-based foods provide an antioxidant boost and
help promote a healthy weight, reducing the risk for all types of cancer
in the long run.”
The six dietary
recommendations to reduce risk of several types of cancer are:
1. Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce
the risk of prostate cancer.
Findings: Consuming thirty-five grams of
dairy protein each day, the equivalent of one large cup of cottage
cheese, increases risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent. Drinking two
glasses of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60
Note: Calcium supplements appear to have the
same effect as milk intake. Men who supplement with more than 400
milligrams of calcium per day increase risk for fatal prostate cancer by
2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk
of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and
Findings: One drink per week increases risk
of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24 percent. Two to three drinks
per day increase risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.
Note: The alcohol itself (rather than
additives) appears to be the cause of cancer, and all types of alcoholic
beverages (wine, beer, and spirits) are problematic.
3. Avoid red and processed meats to reduce
the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
Findings: Each 50-gram daily serving of
processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage link,
increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Each 120-gram daily
serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of
colorectal cancer by 28 percent.
Note: The heme iron, nitrites, heterocyclic
amines, and overabundance of essential amino acids in red and processed
meats are all believed to contribute to cancerous cell growth in the
4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to
reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate,
kidney, and pancreas.
Findings: Four types of heterocyclic amines
(HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form
from creatine and amino acids in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing with
higher cooking times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can
disrupt DNA synthesis.
Note: In addition to the cancers listed
above, HCAs are also associated, to a weaker extent, with cancers of the
breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
5. Consume soy products to reduce risk of
breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for
women previously treated for breast cancer
Findings: Evidence from Asian and Western
countries shows that soy products are associated with reduced cancer
risk. Chinese women who consume more than 11.3 grams of soy protein,
equivalent to half a cup of cooked soybeans, each day during adolescence
have a 43 percent reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer, compared
with women who consume 1.7 grams.
Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast
cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day can reduce mortality
and risk of recurrence by about 30 percent. U.S. populations show
similar findings: the higher the isoflavone intake from soy products,
the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women with breast cancer.
Note: When choosing soy products, opt for
natural forms, such as edamame, tempeh, or organic tofu, as opposed to
soy protein concentrates and isolates, common in powders and pills.
6. Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce
risk of several common forms of cancer.
Findings: Fruits and vegetables, especially
leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high intake of
cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is
associated with an 18 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and
reduced risk of lung and stomach cancers.
Women who consume the most carotenoid-rich
vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, lower their risk of
breast cancer by 19 percent. Overall, women who consume the highest
quantities of any kind of fruit or vegetable reduce breast cancer risk
by 11 percent. A high intake of tomato products has been shown to
reduce risk of gastric cancer by 27 percent. Garlic and other allium
vegetables, such as onions, significantly reduce risk for gastric
cancer, while a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal
amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.
Note: Some components in soybeans, green
tea, turmeric, grapes, tomatoes, and other plant foods have the ability
to regulate apoptosis (a natural process for destroying unhealthy
cells), an important pathway for cancer prevention.
The new guidelines were published in the June 30
issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
“There’s considerable benefit--and no harm—in
loading up with plant-based foods,” notes study author Susan Levin,
M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians
Committee. “Large bodies of research show fruits, vegetables, and
legumes offer a variety of protective properties, so why not move these
foods to the center of our plates?”
The World Health Organization states that a
significant percentage of cancers can be prevented by following a
healthful diet, avoiding tobacco, leading an active lifestyle, and
limiting alcohol intake.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes
preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher
standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.
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