Mercy's Registered Dietitian Leigh Tracy Addresses Foods and Cancer Prevention
Are there certain foods that can actually help prevent cancer, or at least reduce your risk for developing the disease? Mercy registered dietitian Leigh Tracy, RD, LDN, CDE, recently answered questions on this issue from NEWSMAX HEALTH.
How do you view the connection between food and cancer?
There isn’t any one food that will prevent or cure cancer, which is why it is important to consume a variety of wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy on a regular basis. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plant foods that may promote health. We do know that eating more plant-based foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing cancer.
For which cancers is the correlation strongest?
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), consuming more than 18 oz of red meat, such as lamb, pork, and beef, per week can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer; however, exactly how red meat affects the development of the cancer is still unclear.
Additionally, AICR recommends significantly limiting intake of processed meats, including hot dogs, bacon, lunchmeats, and ham, because research indicates that regular consumption increases the risk of developing stomach and colorectal cancers.
What foods should you eat?
Cruciferous vegetables – Broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and collard greens. Cruciferous vegetables are a good source of fiber and vitamin C as well health promoting phytochemicals, indoles and glucosinolates. Research suggests that incorporating foods with fiber may lower the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer.
Foods high in dietary fiber that may lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer include cruciferous vegetables, blueberries, cherries, dry beans and peas, and grapefruit.
Remember, it is important to eat a variety of colorful foods so you can get a variety of health promoting nutrients.
Although prevention is the focus of this article, feel free to tell me a little about how you work with patients.
I help patients while they undergo cancer treatment, whether it’s surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. I also work with cancer survivors on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle after treatment. The patient’s nutritional needs while undergoing treatment can depend on his/her treatment-induced side effects. People can experience various side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, taste alterations, sensitivity to cold, and fatigue to name a few.
I typically recommend people obtain nutrients from their food choices rather than from supplement pills.
--Leigh Tracy, RD, LDN, CDE, Mercy Medical Center
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.