Can food choices influence cancer risk?


MANY factors can contribute to the development of chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer. The link between diet and cancer risk is complicated.

However, certain dietary patterns and food choices do have associations with an increased risk of cancer. This article explains how diet may influence cancer risk.

Researchers have predicted that cancer will become the leading cause of death in every country in the world by the end of this century, making cancer prevention a top priority in the healthcare field.

Although many factors can influence a person’s risk of developing cancer, research shows that environmental causes, including dietary choicesTrusted Source, can also affect cancer risk.

In the early 1960s, researchers discovered that cancer rates varied between countries and identified that specific dietary patterns have correlations with certain types of cancer.

They also discovered that cancer rates in people from countries with a low cancer risk who migrated to countries with higher cancer risk matched or exceededTrusted Source the cancer rates in the country they migrated to. This suggests that diet and lifestyle strongly impacted cancer development.

Since then, researchers have narrowed down the specific foods and dietary patterns that may increase the risk of certain cancers.

This article will focus primarily on food, yet it is important to remember that alcohol intake is also a known dietary risk factorTrusted Source for cancer development.

Research into diet and cancer risk is ongoing, and researchers still have much to learn about how and why food choices affect cancer risk.

Scientists know there is a strong link between processed meat intake and certain types of cancer.

In 2015Trusted Source, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified processed meat as carcinogenic and unprocessed red meat as “probably” carcinogenic.

A 2018 reviewTrusted Source found that increasing intake of processed meat up to about 60 grams (g) per day and red meat up to 150 g per day increased colorectal cancer risk by about 20%.

Diets high in processed and red meat also have associations with an increased risk of other cancers, including stomach cancerTrusted Source and breast cancerTrusted Source.

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