Lower your cancer risk by eating right

Green Beans

About one third of cancer deaths can be attributed to poor diet and physical inactivity.

Research has demonstrated that maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active throughout life, and consuming a healthy diet can substantially reduce a person's lifetime risk of developing cancer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new dietary guidelines reflect what the American Cancer Society has been recommending for years:  balance calories with physical activity, and eat more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and consume less saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

More than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. This extraordinary increase in obesity in the U.S. threatens to jeopardize the progress that has been madein reducing cancer incidence and mortality rates.

One key difference between the new government guidelines and the Society's is that the USDA guidelines do not recommend limiting red and processed meats. Because of a wealth of studies linking colon cancer to diets high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (hot dogs, bologna, etc.), the Society encourages people to eat more vegetables and fish and less red and processed meats.

The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim their waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related cancers and chronic diseases. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country because a healthier population will lower health-care costs and strengthen America’s long-term economic competitiveness and overall productivity.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include 23 key recommendations for the general population and six additional key recommendations for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant. Here are a few:

• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
 
Read the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Read the USDA's 7th edition of Dietrry Guidelines for Americans.