Applying the Precautionary Principle to Nutrition and Cancer

Applying the Precautionary Principle to Nutrition and Cancer

By Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.

Research continues to show, time and time again, that plant-based foods reduce the risk of cancer and strengthen the chance of survival after diagnosis.

While more research is needed in this area, we now have a set of six precautionary principles to reduce the risk of occurrence:

1) Avoid dairy products to reduce risk of prostate cancer.

2) Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.

3) Avoid red and processed meat to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

4) Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

5) Women should consume soy products in adolescence to reduce risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors should consume soy products to reduce risk of cancer recurrence and overall mortality.

6) Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several forms of cancer.

Diets that center around plant sources—vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes—are associated with lower cancer risk, as well as reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

Plant-based diets support a healthy weight, which in itself reduces the risk of many common forms of cancer. Especially good plant sources include cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage; carotenoid vegetables, including carrots and sweet potatoes; tomato products; and allium vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and leeks.

The background: Antioxidants in plants may reduce the spread of tumors and help repair damaged DNA. Some components in soybeans, green tea, turmeric, grapes, tomatoes, and other plant foods have the ability to regulate apoptosis, an important pathway for cancer prevention.

The good news? You can do no harm, only good, by eating a diet rich in plant-based foods.

 

Eat More Plants and Support Local Farmers Who Grow Them

I am now on the board for this awesome non-profit,  Ten Rivers Food Web  that works to help small farmers. I partnered with them to start the first ever Vegetable & Fruit Prescription program in Oregon. To begin to change the health of our nation access to healthy foods is essential. 1 in 7 americans are food insecure, 1 in 5 children live under the poverty line and on average americans get 90% of their daily calories from processed foods and factory-farmed animal products. This leaves just 10% for plants and whole grains. This is simply a recipe for chronic disease. Traditionally humans in temporate climates ate 90% of their calories from plants, fruits, nuts and seeds and 0-10% from animal products and no processed foods. Guess what, cancer and heart disease were virtually non-existent back in the day. Cancer and heart disease continue to be very low in traditional cultures that continue to eat this way. In my clinic and with Ten Rivers we are working to increase the good. Shift that 10%. Scientifically, we know that a whole foods plant-based diet along with regular exercise can decrease heart disease and cancer risk up to 90%. Health is not rocket science believe it or not. Just start by eating more plants, even if it is just one serving a day or a week! And please check out us out and help us out if you feel inspired! At the very least, eat more plants grown my your local farmers and watch the magic happen. Have a great Friday!
For more information about what we are doing at Ten Rivers Food Web: http://www.tenriversfoodweb.org/thats-my-farmer/thats-my-farmer-rx/
For the science in a nifty, entertaining documentary: http://www.forksoverknives.com/
For educational resources on the benefits of a plant-based diet: http://pcrm.org/