The most-feared health risk in North America is the big “C,” but in one recent survey, not even half of all adults were hip to the do-it-yourself steps that can help wipe out an estimated 400,000 new cases a year.
The great news: There’s a bushel basket of fresh reports that reveal how a delicious, disease-fighting diet can protect you and your family from becoming one of those 400,000.
A peanut butter habit in tweens and teens lowers risk for benign breast disease by 39 percent. This disease is a common problem that raises breast cancer risk later in life by as much as 56 percent. Since one out of every four women develops benign breast disease, this is big news.
Nuts are breast-friendly, too (peanuts are actually legumes), and girls who eat some every day are a whopping 68 percent less likely to have this issue.
So make it a habit to put peanut butter (it’s got be 100 percent peanuts with no added sugar or bad oils) and tree nuts (we love walnuts and almonds) on your daughter’s plate, and yours.
Fruits and vegetables slash a woman’s risk for estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer and cut bladder cancer risk 65 percent for women and for men who smoke. (Half of all bladder cancers are associated with smoking). Phytochemicals, beneficial compounds such as alpha and beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, found in vegetables and fruits may protect bladder cells by mopping up damaging free radicals (those are the oxidizing culprits that erode your health like rust on a bolt).
Your best cancer-fighting choices are yellow-orange vegetables (carrots, winter squash), crucifers (broccoli, kale, cabbage, mustard greens) and citrus fruit.
So commit to having nine servings a day of fruit and veggies. You can do that with one 4-ounce glass of our green drink, see Sharecare.com for the recipe (two servings); one large salad with mixed greens (2 cups equals two servings) and with carrots, celery and tomatoes (together they could easily deliver one serving), a cup of broccoli (two servings), 1 cup raw spinach (one serving) and 4 ounces of blueberries (one serving).
Less-sugary food plus a healthy weight equals 59 percent less endometrial cancer.
When our friends at the American Cancer Research Institute weighed the evidence, they concluded that 29,500 of the 50,000 cases of endometrial cancer diagnosed each year could be avoided if women made food choices that helped them maintain a healthy weight and kept blood sugar levels low and steady.
Extra pounds double or triple the risk of endometrial cancer. The link? Fat cells store estrogen, which fuels tumor cells in the lining of the uterus.
The best diet choices: Choose 100 percent whole grains over processed grains and foods. Remember, if it doesn’t say 100 percent whole grain, it’s not the choice you want to make. And skip any food with added sugar or any sugar syrup.
Low-fat, calorie-moderate choices may slash your risk for pancreatic cancer. A lab study showed that a high-fat, high-calorie diet boosts precancerous cell changes that lead to the development of this super-aggressive cancer.
In other words, weight gain causes an increase in inflammation within the pancreas. This is the most direct evidence yet of a link between food choices and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias; lesions that precede this cancer.
Fortunately, lesions take a long time to develop, giving you time to change what you put on your plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
So your smart step is to
show saturated and trans fats the door. Choose lean proteins such as beans, tofu, skinless poultry and proteins that are loaded with healthy fats, such as salmon and ocean trout.
Meanwhile, if you’re sipping your morning java while reading this column, you’re off to a good start. Coffee, it turns out, also helps your body fend off cancer of the colon, prostate, mouth and lining of the uterus by switching on your body’s defenses and helping to keep your body’s sugar-processing system humming.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.