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Let food be your medicine

Recent research confirms that plant-based diets were linked to lower rates of colorectal cancer, in a study of 97,000 Seventh Day Adventists (7 year follow-up).

Another risk of processed foods. Emulsifiers that stop oil and water separating were linked to pre-cancerous conditions. Artificial colours and flavours are also of concern.

You are what you eat.

March 26, 2015

Author Michael Pollan put it well, encouraging people to eat food, not too much, mostly plants, and preferably in the company of others. Highly processed products or anything that arrives through a car window do not count as food.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), an organization that continually updates research databases on links between diet/nutrition and specific cancers, indicates that at least 30 percent of cancers are related to diet. It offers a number of basic recommendations for healthy eating to lower cancer risks.

As much as possible, WCRF suggests a diverse, plant-based diet of healthy, whole, colourful foods rich in nutrients and fibre: vegetables, fruits, beans and lentils, grains, and limited quantities of nuts and seeds. Organic and locally grown foods are recommended for lower levels of pesticides and toxic metals. We are reminded to reduce or eliminate added salt, refined sugar, white flour and alcohol, and moderation is key because extra weight correlates with higher cancer risks.

Keeping animal-based foods, particularly red meat, to a minimum, and choosing organic and pasture-fed versions are also recommended. Processed meats are best left aside, because additives can increase risks of childhood leukemia, and bladder and colorectal cancers. Moderate amounts of fish offer “good fats” and are a healthy option for cancer prevention; however, fish may also be contaminated with persistent organic pollutants and mercury. Wise fishermen follow local consumption guidelines and savvy shoppers follow Sea Choice ( recommendations for the best health and sustainability options.

Obtaining complete nutrition from real food, vegan diets is generally feasible, economical and desirable for diverse health and sustainability reasons, although some knowledge is required to make the switch.

Beside food choices, food preparation may be equally important. Recommendations include slow cooking at low heat to prevent the formation of carcinogens, avoiding non-stick cookware that can release toxic compounds that disrupt hormone actions, and using glass (not plastic) containers for microwaving and storing food.

Cooking isn’t always easy with families to feed and limited time and money, but planning meals in advance can be a great help. Shared meals with family and friends not only feed both body and soul, they tend to be nutritionally superior to snacks or fast food grabbed on the run.

The bottom line is that plant-based whole foods are the most nutritious choices to lower your risks for cancer as well as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other conditions.

Prevent Cancer Now will periodically bring you news and topics about leading edge cancer prevention. In the meantime, check out for more information.


  • World Cancer Research Fund International. CLICK HERE
  • Kaiser Permanente. The Plant-Based Diet. 2013. CLICK HERE
  • Making smart seafood decisions for today and tomorrow. CLICK HERE
  • American Dietetic Association. Vegetarian Diets, 2009. CLICK HERE


  • Orlich et al. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Colorectal Cancers. JAMA Internal Medicine, March 9, 2015. CLICK HERE
  • Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013. CLICK HERE
  • Chassaing et al. Dietary Emulsifiers Impact the Mouse Gut Microbiota Promoting Colitis and Metabolic Syndrome. Nature 519, no. 7541 (March 5, 2015). CLICK HERE
  • FAO/WHO. Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements, 2001. CLICK HERE

Prevent Cancer Now is a civil society organization including citizens, scientists and health professionals working to stop cancer before it starts, through education and advocacy to eliminate preventable causes of cancer.

For further information contact:

Meg Sears, PhD
Co-chair and science advisor, Prevent Cancer Now