Food choices bigger factor than genetics on whether we develop cancer

How do we know diet makes a difference with cancer?

How do we know that diet makes a difference? In hundreds of research studies, scientists tracked how cancer rates different among groups of people whose lives are similar except for the way they eat. In other words, their smoking habits are about the same, their genetic backgrounds are similar, but their diets are different. And by zeroing in on diet, we saw what happened to their cancer risk. Scientists set out to uncover this by comparing groups of people who are similar in every respect, except that one group eats more vegetable and fruits or more whole grains, or steers clear of meat and other fatty foods. In on study after another, the same pattern emerged: People who take advantage of certain protective nutrients and avoid risky foods have much lower cancer risk. If cancer does develop, these same dietary characteristics tend to improve survival.

We've heard that certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer, can "run in the family," suggesting that genetic factors are decisive and that diet may offer little benefit. But research shows that, although genetic factors do play a role in some cancers, the way we eat also "runs in the family." Food choices, handed down generation after generation, are a far bigger factor [in contributing to cancer] than our genes. A look at how cancer rates change as people emigrate from one part of the world to another is very telling. Their genetic makeup doesn't change, but dietary habits do, as people adapt to new ways of life. For example, when people moved from Japan to the United States, many traded their traditional diet, which had planet of rice and vegetables and very little meat or dairy products, for a western menu, heavy with meat and dairy products. With this transition, their breast cancer rates more than tripled, and prostate cancer became almost five times as common.

Healthy Eating for Life to Prevent and Treat Cancer, Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine.

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