Preparing Your Meals Like This Can Slash Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say

Following one simple rule can transform your health.

When it comes to your health, it's hard to overstate just how beneficial a good diet can be. By changing how you eat, even a little bit, you can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. But experts say that when it comes to the latter, it's not just about what you eat, but also how you prepare and plate your meals. Read on to learn which small change experts say could slash your cancer risk and improve your overall health.

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Up to 40 percent of cancer cases are attributable to lifestyle risk factors.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 30 and 40 percent of cancer cases can be attributed to modifiable lifestyle risk factors. These include tobacco use, alcohol consumption, having an inadequate diet, not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, being overweight or obese, and being physically inactive.

The American Cancer Society adds that excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning, and having any of six cancer-associated infections—including hepatitis B or C, HIV, and HPV, are also considered modifiable risk factors for cancer.

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Diet is a significant lifestyle factor you can change.

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In fact, diet has been shown to play a significant role in cancer prevention. That's why the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) created a helpful guide to reducing cancer risk through diet.

The good news? Their simple, cancer-preventing diet tips are relatively easy to follow. Eat meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables, while limiting consumption of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, alcohol, and fast food, they advise.

Even if you do develop cancer, the right diet can postpone its onset.

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A 2016 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that making these dietary changes was beneficial even to individuals of advanced age. They analyzed data from roughly 360,000 healthy participants in Europe and the United States, who were over 60 when they entered their study. The researchers scored each participant on their level of adherence to those four dietary tips, then followed up after a median of 11 to 15 years.

They ultimately concluded that there was a correlation between how closely participants followed the dietary recommendations and their cancer risk. In adults over 60 who did go on to later develop cancer, the onset of their illness was postponed by 1.6 years for each additional WCRF/AICR dietary recommendation they followed.

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Preparing your meals like this slashes your cancer risk.

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It's not only what you put on your plate that matters, but also how you plate your meals. According to the AICR, portions are key to lowering your cancer risk.

The organization says to follow one simple rule, which they explain in a recently released guide called the New American Plate. This recommends "covering at least two-thirds (2/3) of your plate with plant foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans. The remaining third (1/3) of your plate may be filled with animal-based protein rich foods such as seafood, poultry and dairy foods and occasionally with lean red meat."

Not sure you can make the switch all at once? Use their handy guide to transitioning from your old eating style to a healthier one. And of course, you can speak with your doctor or a nutritionist for more tips on how to lower your cancer risk through diet and other lifestyle interventions.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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