Have you heard about the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)? It is a foundation that is dedicated to exploring the role diet and exercise have on cancer. They believe that as much as 40% of cancer in the United States can be prevented. The foundation also believes that “every individual has the power to reduce his or her cancer risk.”1
I am a bit cynical about whether we can prevent nearly half of all cases of cancer in the United States simply by controlling our diets and exercise, but that’s just me. The AICR does include weight control and smoking among the risk factors that are under our control but correctly notes that many thousands of smokers never develop lung cancer and that many Americans who are overweight also do not develop cancer.
The exact percentage of cancers that might be preventable notwithstanding, it makes sense to pay attention to diet and exercise while we are fighting the disease. Lifestyle definitely affects how well we are able to boost our immune systems and, perhaps, counteract some of the side effects of treatment.
While the report says that as much as 90% of lung cancer cases among men and 89% of cases among women throughout the world have a direct relationship with smoking, it includes two other potential causes:
- drinking water that contains arsenic and
- taking high-dose beta-carotene supplements if you smoke or have ever smoked.
In addition, researchers believe processed meats, red meat, and alcoholic drinks may increase our chances of developing lung cancer. I can easily give up most processed meats (you bacon lovers, don’t forget it is considered processed meat) and alcoholic beverages, but I do love to eat red meat occasionally. I thought that pork was considered a “white” meat, but I heard recently that it is also considered red meat.
Fortunately for those like me who haven’t given up their red meats, AICR does state in its latest report, “The evidence suggesting that consumption of red meat increases the risk of lung cancer is limited.”2 I’m going to go with that! Please note that the same report also says, “The evidence suggesting that consumption of alcoholic drinks increases the risk of lung cancer is limited.”2
If you are interested, you can download a free, 71-page PDF document from AICR called, “Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Lung Cancer.” The document is part of the Continuous Update Project (CUP) of the World Cancer Research Fund’s ongoing program to analyze cancer prevention and survival research and was updated in 2018.
1American Institute for Cancer Research. “About American Institute for Cancer Research.” http://www.aicr.org/about/about_cancer_research.html. Accessed 9/30/2018.
2World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Expert Report 2018. Diet, nutrition, physical activity and lung cancer. Available at dietandcancerreport.org. Page 39. Accessed 9/30/2018.