The holidays are here, and since you’re reading this blog, the number one question on your mind probably is, Can my holiday dinner help reduce my risk of cancer? Sure it can! The Advisor Blog research department has been investigating this very issue, and today we’re going to share the findings.
You’re going to want to start your menu planning with the side dishes, because a recent pooled analysis shows that women with high circulating levels of carotenoids, the micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables, have a reduced risk of breast cancer. Inverse associations between carotenoid level and cancer occurrence were observed for alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein plus zeaxanthin, lycopene, and total carotenoids. The effect seems to be more pronounced on estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors than on ER-positive tumors. Try including some garlic in your vegetable preparations—it might help lessen the risk for gastric cancer.
What about the main dish? Let’s steer clear of roast beef or pork. A diet high in red and processed meat has been shown to increase the risk of colorectal and gastric cancer, although with the latter, Helicobacter pylori may be involved to some degree. You’re better off with fish or turkey; the consumption of poultry has been shown to have an inverse relationship with lung cancer risk, although this might apply only to dark meat.
Keep an eye on your portion sizes: there’s evidence that it’s not so much the individual foods you choose to eat, but the ratio of “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods, that determines cancer risk, especially for colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer. Here’s why: the cancer-promoting substances found in some meats are removed by detoxifying enzymes, the activity of which is promoted by the polyphenols contained in fruits and vegetables.
Eating less red meat will not only reduce your risk of colon cancer, it’ll help save the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a model developed by Cambridge researchers.
Now, what to drink? Laboratory research presented earlier this month at the Resveratrol 2012 conference in Leicester, UK, suggests that a daily dose of the amount of resveratrol contained in two glasses of red wine helps prevent colon cancer, at least in mice.
But suppose your mouse—or even you—has a little too much red wine, and wakes up with a headache? Perhaps aspirin can help, in more ways than one. An analysis of prospective data on >300,000 people suggests that aspirin may play a role in preventing hepatocellular carcinoma.
One of the biggest stresses of the holidays is being with people you see only once a year, and remembering why you see them only once a year. Stress might contribute to cancer risk, so try some mindfulness-based art therapy. A study of women with breast cancer found that it improves cerebral blood flow in the limbic system and helps relieve anxiety.
Finally, an extract of mistletoe may be helpful in the treatment of colon cancer, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Standing under it won’t kill tumor cells, but there might be other benefits.
Happy Holidays! Readers, we want to hear from you!
- What’s on your menu for holiday dinner?