By Julie LG Lanford, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN
Wellness Director at Cancer Services, Inc.
By far the most important thing you can do to prevent lung cancer is never smoke. But there’s even more you can do! The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that diets high in fruit could prevent thirty-six percent of those US lung cancer cases not caused by tobacco.
That’s over 7,000 cases every year!!
Nutrition guidelines for cancer prevention may also help cancer survivors prevent the development of a second cancer. The relationship between diet and cancer continues to be studied. Currently, study findings have shown the following associations between diet and lung cancer:
Eating more than 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of lung cancer. The AICR expert report judged the evidence linking diets high in fruit to lower lung cancer risk to be probable. This is one of the reasons AICR recommends eating at least five portions a day of a variety of vegetables and fruits.
Taking beta-carotene supplements may increase the risk of lung cancer in male smokers. There is also convincing evidence that high-dose supplements of beta-carotene can actually increase lung cancer risk. This is one of the reasons AICR does not recommend relying on dietary supplements for cancer prevention. It is best to get your nutritional needs through diet alone.
In addition, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found a 20% increased risk for incident lung cancer among those with the lowest fruit intake. Fruits contain not only vitamins but also many hundreds of other phytochemical compounds whose functions are not well understood.
Many of these compounds seem to have antiviral, antimicrobial, and antineoplastic properties that benefit the plant. When we eat these plants, they in turn have the same properties within our bodies to help prevent disease.
For those currently in treatment for lung cancer, adding calories by doubling or tripling fruit intake might offer important extra benefits in maintaining body weight and improving well-being as the possible effects on lung cancer prognosis are being assessed.
Cancer Prevention Recommendations:
It is recommended that all people follow the following suggestions to reduce their risk for a primary lung cancer or for a recurrence of lung cancer. These recommendations are also helpful in maintaining a healthy heart and reduce risk for other types of disease:
- Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
- 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 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer.
- It’s best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods.
- After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.
For more information regarding lifestyle tips for cancer prevention and survivorship, visit www.CancerDietitian.com. For information on nutrition therapy for lung cancer treatment, click HERE.
Julie is a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in oncology nutrition. She currently serves as Wellness Director at Cancer Services, Inc in Winston-Salem and authors a cancer nutrition blog at www.cancerdietitan.com. She is available to provide education programs to your group. To schedule a program or speaking engagement, call (336) 760-9983 or email Julie.Lanford@CancerServicesOnline.org.