Food and Cancer: How do eating habits affect Cancer?

Food and Cancer

Cancer is a group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs. The latter process is called metastasizing and is a major cause of death.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and accounted for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018. But studies suggest that certain lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet, could prevent 30–50% of all cancers. Researchers have been studying how food, nutrients, and eating patterns affect cancer. As we move forth, we shall explore the various ways in which diet affects cancer and what foods increase or decrease the chances of developing the disease.

How does a healthy diet reduce cancer risk?

healthy diet for cancer

There is no direct link between fat intake and particular types of cancer, as per current evidence (with the possible exception of prostate cancer), however, a high-fat diet may lead to obesity, which is a risk factor for several cancers, including cancers of the colon, breast, kidney, oesophagus, gallbladder and endometrium. Thus, having a healthy and balanced diet may reduce the risk of cancer by helping you, maintain a healthy weight and thus protecting you against certain types of cancers.


Food and drinks to limit

Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates

Processed foods that are high in sugar and low in fibre and nutrients have been linked to higher cancer risk. Researchers have found that a diet that causes blood glucose levels to spike is associated with an increased risk of several cancers, including stomach, breast and colorectal cancers.
Insulin has been shown to stimulate cell division, supporting the growth and spread of cancer cells and making them more difficult to eliminate and also contributing to inflammation in your body. In the long term, this can lead to the growth of abnormal cells and possibly contribute to cancer.
Thus, limit or avoid foods that boost insulin levels, such as foods high in sugar and refined carbs.

Processed Meat

Processed meat refers to meat that has been treated to preserve flavour by undergoing salting, or smoking. Some studies have found an association between consuming processed meat and an increased cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer. Any amount of processed meat and more than around 18 ounces of fresh meat per week are most strongly linked with a higher risk of cancer and the best one can do is avoid these completely.

Overcooked Food

Cooking certain foods at high temperatures, such as grilling, frying, sautéing, and barbecuing, can produce harmful compounds like heterocyclic amines (HA) and advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Excess buildup of these harmful compounds can contribute to inflammation and may play a role in the development of cancer and other diseases. To minimize cancer risk, avoid burning food and choose gentler cooking methods, especially when cooking meat, such as steaming, stewing or boiling.


Consuming alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast, bowel and liver. The risk is even greater in people who smoke. To reduce their risk of disease, men should drink less than two standard drinks a day and women less than one standard drink a day.


Anti Cancer Food

Plant-based Food

Plant-based foods are packed with nutrition and research has also shown that eating lots of them is linked with lower cancer rates. Plants produce many phytochemicals (literally, plant chemicals) that may protect cells from damage, thus keeping one safe.


Many vegetables contain cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. For example, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, a substance that has been shown to reduce tumour size in mice by more than 50%.


Eating seven or more serves daily of a variety of grains, grain products, legumes, roots and tubers provide protective benefits against cancer. The less processed the grains, the better, so try to aim for whole-grain foods.


Flaxseeds have been associated with protective effects against certain cancers and may even reduce the spread of cancer cells.


Studies have found that Cinnamon may possess anti-cancer properties and prevent cancer cells from spreading. Additionally, curcumin present in turmeric may help fight cancer. Thus, to strengthen immunity, one should look into the ancient wisdom of the Indian kitchen.

Why does nutrition matter?


Nutrition for a person battling with cancer is of utmost importance because:
(a) The immune system needs bolstering to fight at full strength.
(b) Extra protein may be needed to help prevent loss of muscle from weight loss.
(c) Loss of appetite or increased metabolism means that high-energy foods may need to be included in the daily diet.
(d) Proper nutrition is vital to complement traditional cancer treatments, aid in recovery, minimize unpleasant symptoms and improve quality of life.

Enjoying a healthy diet in combination with a healthy lifestyle can keep you feeling your best and get you started on the road to recovery.
Let us increase our physical activity, make healthy food choices, limit alcohol, and look for ways to make our communities healthier places to live, work, and play.

About The Author

Pavtan Food Products have been made after years of scientific research based on Ayurveda and Medical Science.

Our ‘Cancer Care Aata’ has proved to be an ayurvedic gift to cancer patients, thousands of them have benefitted from it. The major ingredients include Raj Gira, Singhada, Saava, Kattu and Moong which help in curing cancer and preventing the cancer cells to grow further.
To know more, click here

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