Skip to content →

10 Ways to Prevent Cancer

The Top 10 Things You Can Do To Prevent Cancer

Maintain body weight within the normal range throughout adulthood.

Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.

Limit consumption of calorie-dense foods. Avoid sugary drinks.

Avoiding calorie-rich, sugar-rich drinks may help you prevent cancer. One in every five calories in our American diet now comes from beverages (all those grand lattes are adding up), and that’s a big problem.

As you learned at Pritikin, the best way to prevent weight gain is to steer clear of calorie-dense foods like fat-rich fast foods as well as dry, processed foods such as chips and candy bars and even healthier options like bagels, pretzels, and dried cereals. That’s because all dry, processed foods pack a lot of calories into very small packages. It’s shockingly easy to swallow 1,000 to 2,000 calories long before you’ve satisfied your hunger.

“Food supplies that are mainly made up of processed foods, which often contain substantial amounts of fat or sugar, tend to be more calorie-dense than food supplies that include substantial amounts of fresh foods,” concluded the new cancer report.

For a low-calorie-dense diet, fill each day with water-rich, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, hot cereals, and potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Foods with a lot of water and fiber usually provide a lot of stomach-satisfying volume, but not a lot of calories.

Avoid calorie-rich, sugar-rich drinks, too. One in every five calories in our American diet now comes from beverages (all those grand lattes are adding up), and that’s a big problem because, as the cancer report states, “Sugary drinks provide calories but do not seem to induce satiety or compensatory reduction in subsequent calorie intake.”

Translated: Whether you drink a diet coke or a regular coke, you’ll likely eat the same burger and fries. And you’ll get hungry about the same number of hours later. Regular coke, in short, is simply adding more calories to your day, which can all too easily add more pounds on you.

Eat mostly foods of plant origin.

Advised the international panel of cancer experts: Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and eat relatively unprocessed whole grains and/or legumes (beans) with every meal. “These, and not foods of animal origin, are the recommended center for everyday meals.”

All these foods contain “substantial amounts of dietary fiber and a variety of micronutrients, and are low or relatively low in calorie density.”

One easy way to get a lot of veggies into your day, as your Pritikin registered dietitians taught, is to start each lunch and dinner with a big satisfying salad. We stress “big.” This is one case where “super sizing” is a very good thing.

At salad bars, start with a big bowl and pile on the greens. Then add lots of colorful veggies and some lean protein, if you’d like, like beans, tofu, white meat chicken, or seafood. Beans are really high in fiber, so they will satisfy your appetite for a long time.

Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.

Avoiding Red and Processed Meat May Help You Prevent Cancer

Avoiding red and processed meat may help you prevent cancer. The cancer experts recommend that the population average consumption of red meat be no more than 11 ounces a week, very little if any of which is processed.

According to the WCRF/AICR report, red meat, including beef, pork, and lamb, as well as processed meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, salami, and ham “are convincing or probable causes of some cancers,” including cancers of the colon, esophagus, lung, stomach, and prostate.

Moreover, “diets with high levels of animal fats are often relatively high in calories, increasing the risk of weight gain.”

The cancer experts recommend that the population average consumption of red meat be no more than 11 ounces a week, very little if any of which is processed.

Instead of red meat, the experts advised, select white meat poultry and seafood. “Flesh from wild animals, birds, and fish, whose nutritional profiles are different from those of domesticated and industrially reared creatures, is also preferred.”

For optimal protection against cardiovascular disease, the Pritikin Program recommends no more than 3.5 to 4 ounces (cooked) of animal protein each day. Your optimal choice is seafood, except for some of the higher-in-cholesterol selections like eel, conch, and squid. Once a week, you may opt for skinless white poultry or grass-fed, free-range wild game such as buffalo, elk, and venison. Try to limit other red meat choices to once a month – or not at all.

Limit alcoholic drinks.

Though the WCRF/ACIR panel took into account the evidence that modest amounts of alcoholic drinks are likely to protect against coronary heart disease, the data on cancer indicate that “even small amounts of alcoholic drinks should be avoided.”

Alcoholic drinks are linked to mouth, larynx, and colorectal cancer and may also cause liver cancer.

If you consume alcoholic drinks, the cancer report advises you limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

These modest levels of consumption are associated with reductions in heart disease risk only among middle-aged and older individuals, because heart disease is a much larger factor in these groups.

From a cardiologist’s point of view, the drinking age should be about 40, since anyone younger does not benefit from alcohol. They simply drive cars into ditches, or worse. About 100,000 Americans die from alcohol-associated diseases and trauma like car accidents each year, due mostly to overconsumption of alcohol.

Limit consumption of salt.

“Salt is necessary for human health and life itself, but at levels very much lower than those typically consumed in most parts of the world,” stated the cancer report. Salt and salt-preserved foods are a probable cause of some cancers, particularly stomach cancer.

To avoid cancer, the panel recommends that consumption of processed foods with added salt be less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day. (Salt is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride.)

To avoid not only cancer but also cardiovascular-related diseases like hypertension and heart attacks, the Pritikin Program, in line with the Institute of Medicine, advises that adult Americans limit their consumption of sodium to 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams a day, depending on age. People aged 19 to 50 should consume 1,500 mg or less of sodium a day. Those 51 to 70 should cut sodium to1,300 mg or less, and those over 70 should aim for 1,200 mg or less.

That’s no small task when you live in a country like the U.S. where one restaurant plate of pasta marinara can tally up a whopping 3,000 mg of sodium, and, calorie for calorie, corn flakes and most breads pack in about twice as much sodium as potato chips.

And do we ever pay the price. High blood pressure in America is at an all-time high. Our lifetime chance of getting high blood pressure is now over 90%. It’s a huge problem because hypertension (persistent high blood pressure) increases the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease three-fold.

The good news: blood pressure can fall dramatically, studies on the Pritikin Program have found. In a meta-analysis of 1,117 hypertensives at the Pritikin Longevity Center, 55% of those on hypertension drugs lowered blood pressure to normal, medication-free levels. After just three weeks, they returned home free of their anti-hypertensive drugs.

Aim to meet nutritional needs through food alone, not supplements.

Consuming supplements for cancer prevention “might have unexpected adverse effects,” concluded the WCRF/AICR panel. “The best source of nourishment is foods, not dietary supplements.”

Suspect, too, are “fortified” foods, a trend that began in the U.S. in 1988 – when nearly every processed food was “Fortified With Oat Bran” – and has recently given us the likes of Cocoa Puffs With Whole Grain Goodness. Another common marketing trick: Turning lousy food into a “health” food just because one ingredient has been removed (Trans-Fat-Free Crisco).

Ironically, the only foods that have never been labeled as “fortified” or “good for you” are the most genuinely healthful foods of all, the ones sitting quietly in the produce section, the lowly carrots and green beans and other fruits and vegetables. They’re naturally rich in virtually every nutrient we need, but never at artificially high, potentially dangerously levels.

Ultimately, argues Michael Pollan in his compelling book on the food industry, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we’re better off avoiding foods bearing health claims. “They’re apt to be heavily processed,” Pollan writes, “and the claims are often dubious at best.

“Don’t forget that margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim that it was more healthful than the traditional food it replaced, turned out to give people heart attacks.” When Mars can boast about its plant-sterol-enriched chocolate bars and Kentucky Fried Chicken about its trans-fat-free drumsticks, health claims have become hopelessly compromised.

Our best bet: Eat real food. Whole fresh food. Yes, in our present state of confusion, that’s easier said than done. Here’s a tip: Buy foods your great-great grandmother would have recognized as food. Foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, yams, oats, corn on the cob, and brown rice. These foods, mostly of plant origin, are, as the panel of leading cancer experts concluded, your best source of nourishment.

Special Recommendation
Mothers to breastfeed; children to be breastfed.

The evidence on cancer and other diseases shows that sustained exclusive breastfeeding is protective for the mother as well as the child. (Exclusive means human milk only, with no other food or drink, including water.)

The panel therefore recommends that mothers breastfeed infants exclusively up to six months and continue with complementary feeding thereafter.

Special Recommendation
For cancer survivors, follow the recommendations for cancer prevention..

If able to do so, and unless otherwise advised, the WCRF/AICR report recommends that cancer survivors (all cancer survivors, before, during, and after active treatment) lifestyle guidelines outlined in its report.

There is evidence that people who’ve had colon cancer are significantly less likely to suffer a recurrence if they adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle. This also appears to be the case for cancers of the breast and prostate.

Finally, throughout its report, the expert panel emphasizes the importance of not smoking and avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke.

Summing up

Lose weight. Eat your vegetables. Limit salt. Cut out fatty animal products and refined carbs. Don’t smoke. Exercise daily. That’s how you prevent cancer. It’s not new news. It won’t make sexy headlines that sell newspapers and magazines. But it works.

More clearly than ever, the WCRF/ACIR review of 7,000 studies affirms we have the potential through our food and lifestyle choices to make a major impact on the cancer risk we each face in our lives.

Health Resort

Take life to the next level, and be all that you can be. That’s what a vacation at Pritikin is all about. Live better. Look better. Best of all, feel better.

All-Inclusive Program

Since 1975, 100,000+ people have come to Pritikin. We are the longest-running, most scientifically documented health resort in America.

Rooms and Suites

Our newly renovated guest rooms at the health resort are spacious, serene, and amenity-rich. Each has a gorgeous garden view.

Published in Lifestyle Longevity


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *