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Lifestyle Interventions for Cancer Prevention

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

Diet and lifestyle

Welcome to the lifestyle and diet revolution as never before. Earlier we only talked about preventive medicine but now the mantra is lifestyle and diet to remain healthy. People do not want to wait for the disease to knock at the door for stimulating corrective medication and measures. These days the idea is to the beat and dodge the disease.

If a correct lifestyle is adopted well in advance one can remain healthy for a long time.

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Intervention of lifestyle in cancer

While research shows that a healthy diet may help prevent or halt the development of certain cancers, there is no one food or nutrient that has been proven to cure cancer or keep it from coming back. Many studies have been done about nutritional strategies to prevent cancer.

Dietary therapy: what is right and what is wrong!

Plant food-based diet. Research shows that eating plant foods can help fight cancer, because fruits and vegetables contain disease-preventing compounds called phytochemicals. These substances provide more health benefits than vitamins and minerals alone. They slow the absorption and disable or stop the binding of cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) within cells. They also may slow the growth of cancer cells.

The phytochemical content of different fruits and vegetables varies by colour. Fruits and vegetables with cancer-fighting qualities include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts (called cruciferous vegetables), citrus fruits and berries, onions and garlic, and brightly colored vegetables like carrots, squash, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, and beets.


  1. At least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed daily

  2. Whole grain breads, cereals and pulses should be aplenty on the diet everyday.

  3. Protein rich foods like lean pork, poultry, fish, beans and low fat dairy products should be made an integral part of the diet plan.


  1. High amounts of high-fat foods, especially high-fat meats.

  2. Charred meats while grilling.

Weight watching: There are weight fluctuations while treatment and recovery. Addition or subtraction in the amount of type of food should be made accordingly. An answer could be liquid nutritional supplement when losing weight. If gaining weight, a healthy eating diet plan with adequate and not extra caloric needs should be followed. If you are overweight, you should only try to lose weight after your treatment is complete.

Exercise to remain active : Researchers have not yet been able to determine whether physical activity can prevent cancer from coming back or slow its growth. But studies have shown that regular activity can reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood and self-esteem and reduce symptoms of fatigue, nausea, pain, and diarrhea.

Alcohol and tobacco manual

Tobacco is the main cause of lung cancer, and plays a role in other types of cancer as well. Therefore, abstinence is the best policy. Alcohol may increase the risk of several cancers. On the flip side some alcohols like substances found in red wine may decrease the risk of certain cancers can also be obtained by eating fruits and vegetables.

Food hygiene

Food safety is important as the immune system gets weakened. Washing hands, fruits and vegetables before eating is a good idea. Washing of all utensils and counter tops that come in contact with raw meat, and cook meat, poultry and other animal products has to be followed. Only pasteurized milk and juices should be taken in order to avoid any contamination. Store foods at low temperatures (below 40º F) to minimize bacterial growth. In restaurants, avoid salad bars, sushi, and raw or under cooked meat, shellfish, poultry, and eggs.

Nutritional Therapies

Unfortunately, very few controlled clinical trials have been performed to test the impact of these nutritional methods. Some of the most widely known nutritional therapies include:

  • Supplements Because of the apparent anti-cancer effects of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, some people believe that taking high doses of vitamin, mineral, or herbal supplements will destroy cancer cells. However, there is no evidence that any nutritional supplements, even in high doses, can provide the same benefits of a diet high in vegetables and fruits. Some vitamins and herbal compounds are toxic at high levels. Controversy surrounds the use of antioxidant supplements during treatment for cancer. More research needs to be conducted to establish if these supplements may be used safely during treatment.

  • Phytochemical Supplements Scientists have identified hundreds of phytochemicals in foods. They believe there are thousands more. Each seems to have a unique role in protecting the body against cancer. However, it is unlikely that taking a supplement is as effective as eating phytochemical-containing foods, since it is believed that the various phytochemicals and vitamins found in foods act together to reduce cancer risk.

  • Soy Soy contains high levels of phytochemicals (genistein and diadzein), which seem to show anti-cancer activity in laboratory studies. Soy foods may have good effects for some, and bad effects for others. Studies on soy and breast cancer have produced conflicting results. Some show that genistein reduces the growth of cancer cells, and others show it increases growth. People with breast cancer should only use moderate amounts of soy foods. They should not supplement their diets with more concentrated sources of soy like pills, powders, or supplements.

  • Vegetarian Diets Vegetarian diets can have a variety of healthy qualities, since they tend to be low in saturated fats and high in fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals. At this time, however, there is no evidence that a vegetarian diet can prevent cancer from coming back. If you choose to follow a strict vegetarian diet, you may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

  • Macrobiotic Diets Macrobiotic diets are based on whole grains and cereals, specific vegetables, seaweed, beans, fruits, nuts, seeds, miso soup, and teas. There is no clear scientific evidence these cure or prevent cancer. Macrobiotic diets are very restrictive. Cancer survivors choosing these diets should take special care to make sure they’re getting enough calories and nutrients.

As a parting thought I would like to add that one of the most vital in cancer prevention are


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