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Diet and Exercise and Cancer Risk

Posted 7/14/2015

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  This is a topic that won't go away. I have spent several hours this morning discussing this with three different women in my office. Each has already had cancer (otherwise I likely would never have met them), and each has been reading about the possible impact and value of diet and exercise. The cancer risk part is a little less relevant once you are on this side of the diagnosis, but it remains part of the total equation.

  I am very skeptical of anything that purports it can prevent cancer, but the possibility of lowering risk of either an initial diagnosis or a recurrence seems like a good thing. Especially since the recommendations tend to be things that we know are wise for overall good health, there is little reason to ignore them.

  From Medscape comes this overview:

A Look at the Evidence: Diet, Exercise and Cancer Risk

Every day, headlines bombard readers with various diets that purportedly prevent cancer: "The Diet That Stops Cancer" and "Eating Your Way Out of Cancer." But what do the hard data really say about lifestyle choices preventing cancer?
Michelle Harvie, SRD, PhD, of the Genesis Prevention Center and Nightingale Breast Screening Center at University Hospital of South Manchester, England, speaking at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), pointed out that most of the cancer prevention recommendations have been sparked by findings from observational studies rather than randomized trials.
"Because most of the data come from observational studies, rather than randomized trials, we can't prove causality, but certainly the cohort studies show various associations," Dr Harvie said.
To prevent cancer, the American Cancer Society (ACS), World Cancer Research Fund, and American Institute for Cancer Research recommend several lifestyle choices, including being as lean as possible without becoming underweight; being physically active for at least 30 minutes per day; eating a mostly plant-based diet; limiting red meats and avoiding processed meats; limiting alcoholic drinks; and not taking supplements to protect against cancer (Table 1).[1] Recent studies support most, but not all, of these recommendations.


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