St. Charles Herald-Guide

Cancer-fighting tips from a doctor; don’t live in fear - take charge now

By Staff Report - January 31, 2007

"It’s never too late to begin healthy eating and exercise habits that can slash your chances of getting cancer by 30 percent," says LSU nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

"Although genetics is a factor in the development of cancer, cigarette smoking, dietary choices and physical activity can change the risk of cancer at all stages of its development.

“The introduction of healthful diet and exercise practices at any time from childhood to old age can promote health and reduce cancer risk."

Many dietary choices can affect cancer risk: certain foods, food preparation methods, portion sizes, food variety and overall caloric balance.

“More than 200 studies indicate that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower cancer risk.

"Americans often have unhealthy eating habits," Reames notes. “In the past few decades, Americans have increased calories while reducing physical activity. This phenomenon has occurred in part because of increased eating of food outside the home, more sedentary lifestyle patterns and the advertising and promotion of high calorie foods.

The nutritionist offers these dietary suggestions to decrease cancer risk:

1. Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Eat other foods from plant sources, such as breads, cereals, grain products, rice, pasta or beans several times each day.

2. Limit your intake of high fat meats and dairy products.

3. Be physically active, at least moderately active for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week.

4. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

5. Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages, if you drink at all.

The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends eating a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce cancer risk by 30 percent.