Lung Cancer Prevention With Dieting

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Many studies have looked at the link between diet and cancer prevention. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recently reviewed all articles to date. Based on that review, they estimate that 30 to 40% of cancers could be prevented based on a healthy diet and moderate exercise alone. For those already diagnosed with cancer, AICR recommends following the guidelines for prevention to help avoid recurrence.

Let's start with general recommendations and then go on to talk about dietary approaches to reduce the risk of lung cancer specifically.

AICR Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

Note that these recommendations outlined below are great for overall health—they aren't limited to just the prevention of lung cancer, but possibly other types of cancers, too.

  • Maintain a healthy weight for your height.
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods. (Particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat.)
  • Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes such as beans.
  • Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  • If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women per day.
  • Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
  • Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer. (Studies have found that those who take supplements of vitamin E and beta-carotene actually have an increased risk of developing lung cancer.) Be sure to let your doctor know if you're taking any supplements.

Diet and Exercise

Several studies have looked at diet and exercise specifically in the prevention of lung cancer. Specific foods associated with a lower risk can be found in the links below, but highlights of these studies that looked at certain foods and exercise include:

  • Moderate exercise—even gardening one to two times per week—lowered the risk of lung cancer in several studies.
  • A high-fat diet raised the risk of lung cancer.
  • Diets high in fruit are associated with a lower risk of lung cancer, and in fact, the National Cancer Institute has estimated that foods high in flavonoids, such as apples, can lower the risk of lung cancer by 50 percent.
  • In women, the intake of dairy products and vegetables has been linked with a lower risk of lung cancer in smokers, and black tea with a lower risk in non-smokers.
  • Foods high in lutein such as collard greens, spinach, broccoli, and orange juice, are associated with a lower risk of lung cancer.
  • Foods high in lycopene, such as tomatoes and especially tomato sauces, are linked with a lower risk of lung cancer.
  • Smokers that drink green tea appear to have decreased oxidative DNA damage, a genetic change that predisposes to cancer. Learn more about the role of green tea in cancer prevention and treatment.

Specific Foods

Some general categories of foods are noted above, but if you're interested in maximizing a lung cancer prevention diet, there's a lot more.

If you are interested in lung cancer prevention, there are certain superfoods purported to reduce lung cancer risk. Each of these foods has been studied in credible medical studies and found to be associated with a lower risk of lung cancer from a population standpoint or plays a role in the body's metabolism that's associated with lowering the risk of cancer developing.

If instead, you or a loved one are living with lung cancer, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with specific lung cancer-fighting foods. These foods may work by altering the way that cancer cells divide and grow. Of course, it's important to talk to your oncologist before changing any regimens or routines. Just as we know that some vitamins and mineral supplements may interfere with cancer treatment, your oncologist will know if there are any specific foods you should avoid while being treated with chemotherapy or other treatments.

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