The current cancer prevention guidelines recommend a plant-based diet and low alcohol consumption, as both of these healthy habits are associated with reducing the risk of developing obesity-related cancers, according to a new study, titled, “Concordance with World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) guidelines for cancer prevention and obesity-related cancer risk in the Framingham Offspring cohort (1991–2008)” from the New York University (NYU) recently published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.
Nour Makarem, lead author and a nutrition doctoral student at the NYU, said in a press release: “Our research aims to clarify associations between diet and physical activity in relation to cancer to encourage at-risk individuals to make lifestyle modifications that may reduce their risk of certain cancers.”
Estimates point out that about a third of the cancers are related to excess of body fat, thus, they are considered preventable as long as an appropriate healthy lifestyle is adopted. Among these obesity-related cancers, the following are listed: gastrointestinal tract, reproductive organs, urinary tract, blood, bone, spleen, and thyroid cancer.
The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research back in 1997 suggested cancer prevention guidelines which were subsequently updated in 2007. These guidelines highlighted the importance of diet, weight management, and physical activity to reduce cancer incidence.
The research team analyzed data from 2,983 people (men and women) which integrated the Framingham Heart Study. They then focused on data from 1991 to 2008 to seek conclusions regarding the relationship between healthy behaviors and cancer prevention. As a result they were able to identify 480 obesity-related cancers among the sampled patients.
The scientists invented a seven-point score based on the guidelines for body fat, physical activity, foods that promote weight gain, plant foods, animal foods, alcohol consumption, and food preparation and processing. Other factors related to the risk of cancer such as smoking, age, and preexisting conditions, were taken into account. The overall score was not associated with obesity-related cancer risk, however. Some components were assessed separately, and strong cancer risk predictors emerged.
Limiting alcoholic drinks to one for women and two for men at the most per day, seemed protective against obesity-related cancers. When it comes protection against prostate, breast and colorectal cancers; eating sufficient fruits, vegetables, and legumes seemed effective.
“Based on the study’s results, dietary advice on preventing cancer should emphasize the importance of eating a plant-based diet and restricting alcohol consumption,” concluded Niyati Parekh, a professor at NYU Steinhardt and senior author of the study.