Studies have shown that there is a link between dietary habits and certain types of cancer. In fact, 25% to 30% of cancers can be related to dietary factors. A few simple rules for maintaining a healthy diet can go a long way towards preventing this terrible disease. Two key words should guide your choice of foods: Moderation and Variety.

Don’t let yourself get too fat: persons who are 40% or more above their ideal weight run a much higher risk of developing

Cancer – 33% higher for men and 55% higher for women. Research has shown that obesity is an important factor in the cause of breast cancer and cancer of the uterus, prostate, intestine and rectum.

– Limit your intake of meat, butter, eggs and cheese. These foods contain animal fats that increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer (breast, intestine, prostate, pancreas). Eat more fish and poultry instead.

– Eat whole grain bread for its vegetable fibre content. Vegetable fibres improve intestinal functions (notably the elimination of waste) and help protect against colon cancer. Whole grains serve the same purpose.

– Eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, leeks, squash, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc.), helps protect the body against cancer of the colon, stomach, rectum and lungs. These foods contain fibres which compliment those obtained from grains. They are also rich in vitamins, notably Vitamins A, E and C, all of which help fight free radicals and thus prevent cancer. In principle, eating some type of fresh fruit and/or vegetable with each meal should provide you with enough of these essential vitamins, as well as fibre.

– You can eat three or four fresh fruits a day (a kiwi, an apple, a pear and a banana, for example) to fulfil your Vitamin C requirements. Yellow fruits provide you with Vitamin A.

– Eat a lot of salad and spinach, and season salads with parsley.

– Foods most rich in Vitamin C include parsley, kiwis, fresh black currant, raw turnip, sorrel, raw green pepper, raw green cabbage, and citrus fruits, of course.

– Avoid smoked, salted or barbecued foods which contain substances (nitrites, tar and carbonized fat) that are potentially carcinogenic, especially as far as stomach cancer is concerned.

Cancer and vitamins

Many vitamins are involved in the process of cellular division, notably Vitamins A, B9 (folic acid), B12 and E.

Cancer creates an anomaly in cellular division, which is no longer regulated. In a sense, cancer cells are immortal – they keep dividing and do not die until they kill the host organism. Tumours can be considered parasites, stealing nutrients from the organism they occupy.

As Professor Joyeux emphasized in his book ‘How To Prevent Cancer By Changing Your Diet’ (O.E.I.L. Publishing), vitamins play an important role in cancer prevention.

The most important anti-carcinogenic vitamin is Vitamin C, followed by Vitamins A, E, D, and the B-complex group. Researchers still don’t understand all there is to know about the body’s vitamin needs, or the effects of various vitamins on metabolism. But clinical studies have shown that vitamins play a role in preventing certain types of cancer.

For that reason adopting a balanced, vitamin-rich diet can minimize your risk of developing cancer.

Vitamin C fights cancer in a number of ways:

– it protects cells, especially cellular membranes and the genetic material stored in cell nuclei;

– it prevents the formation of nitrosamines (carcinogenic substances derived from nitrates in water, vegetables and preserving agents) in the stomach;

– it helps prevent cells from mutating – combined with Vitamin E, Vitamin C inhibits the mutating ability of carcinogenic substances;

– it strengthens the immune system;

– it has a beneficial effect on liver enzymes which help eliminate toxins that can cause cancer.

Elderly persons

As people age they are much more likely to develop a Vitamin A deficiency. Elderly persons should drink at least half to three quarters of a quart of whole milk per day, and consume at least 20 grams (two thirds of an ounce) of butter and 30 to 35 grams (one to one and a half ounces) of cheese.

Beta-carotene (also called pro-Vitamin A) is found in certain fruits and vegetables, notably sorrel, carrots, spinach, turnips, apricots, parsley, lettuce and egg yolks.

Vitamin K

This vitamin is synthesized by certain bacteria in the intestines, and is necessary for blood coagulation. Most other vitamins are obtained from the food you eat. Vitamin K is the exception – your body produces it only when it is needed.

Vitamin K can help limit the harmful side effects of X-ray therapy. Natural sources include liver, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, meat, potatoes and green beans.

Vitamin B1

Although this vitamin has not been directly linked to cancer prevention, it does enhance nerve functions and is necessary for the metabolism of sugars. Good sources include pork, organs, cauliflower, dried legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) and dried fruit.

Vitamin B12

In large doses Vitamin Bl2 actually stimulates the growth of tumors. However, when combined with Vitamin C, B12 becomes an anti-carcinogenic agent. Good sources include beef, liver, heart, milk and dairy products, and oily fish.