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Foods and Habits that Increase Your Cancer Risk

Just like with heart disease, diabetes, leaky gut syndrome and other autoimmune disorders, free radical damage or oxidative stress from inflammation is truly at the root of cancer formation. While we often think of the word “cancer” as one type of disease, this term actually encompasses over 100 different cellular disorders in the body. Cancer refers to uncontrolled cell division that leads to a tumor or abnormal cell growth. When abnormal cells divide without control, they can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body, including the blood and lymphatic systems.

The root causes of cancer are complex and multifactorial, with possible causes including: poor diet, exposure to environmental toxins, genetics, viruses or infections, high stress levels, poor digestion and nutrient absorption, and lack of physical activity. While most people choose to turn to conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation or other drugs, there’s also mounting evidence that cancer risk can be dramatically reduced by following a healthy diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods and controlling other factors that kick off heightened oxidative stress, also called an “immune cascade.”

Foods that increase inflammation and cancer risk include:

  • Sugar
  • Refined oils
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Conventional dairy products
  • Farm-raised meats

What does work when it comes to lowering inflammation and fighting free radical damage? The key is consuming plenty of cancer-fighting foods with antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. This means avoiding packaged and processed foods that contain dangerous phthalates and focusing on only those that do not contain antibiotics, chemicals or toxins. Buying foods that are organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised and additive-free can greatly lower the toxic load of your diet.

Findings from the 2010 European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) that looked at dietary factors associated with higher cancer risks showed that there’s significant associations between cancer risk and low intakes of certain nutrients. Data from the investigation that was published in the European Journal of Cancer showed an inverse association between higher intakes of vitamin C, carotenoids, retinol, α-tocopherol and fiber with overall cancer risk.

After following over 519,978 participants living in 10 European nations, results showed that those who most closely followed a style of eating similar to the Mediterranean diet were the most protected. High intake of cancer-fighting foods like vegetables, fruit, fish, calcium-rich foods and fiber was associated with a decreased risk of colorectal, lung and breast cancers, while red and processed meat intake, alcohol intake, unhealthy body mass index (BMI), and abdominal obesity were associated with an increased risk.  Being physically active and obtaining enough vitamin D also helped lower cancer susceptibility.

What does this mean in terms of choosing the very best cancer-fighting foods that you can? Lots of fruit and vegetables can help lower the risk of cancer and offer protective elements so these should be the bases of your diet. On top of that, obtaining enough healthy proteins and fatty acids keeps your immune system working properly and prevents muscle wasting, deficiencies, or hormonal and nerve problems.

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