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“Dietary Risk Factors for Cancer”

Before discussing which foods and dietary patterns may protect against cancer development, it is crucial to understand that engaging in activities that scientists consider significant cancer risk factors, such as cigarette smoking or excessive drinking, may counteract the potential protective effects of diet. Irrespective of diet, avoiding smoking, reducing alcohol intake, managing body weight, and being active, are critical to reducing cancer risk. Researchers have discovered that, just as some dietary patterns may increase cancer risk, nutritional choices can also have a protective effect against cancer. For example, the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds, and low in red and processed meat and ultra-processed foods, has associations with an overall protective effect against cancer and cancer-related death. Studies have shown that diets high in fruits, vegetables, and other fiber-rich plant foods offer protection against cancer development.  Consuming a varied diet that provides optimal amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds is essential for overall health. In addition to consuming a diet rich in plant-based foods, reducing intake of processed and red meats, ultra-processed foods, and added sugars and salt may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and many other chronic conditions. Though many factors can influence a person’s risk of developing cancer, including factors that a person cannot control, research shows that some dietary patterns and
specific foods may increase the chance of developing certain cancers.

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