How to live longer: The food to ‘limit’ to reduce your risk of cancer – it is a cause

Cancer patient says it took 10 hours to get home from hospital

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Cancer Research UK says healthier diets could prevent around one in 20 cancers. Though sadly not always the case, sometimes you may be able to reduce your risk of developing cancer. Moreover, catching signs early can often help with treatment. Macmillan says there is no single food that causes or prevents cancer, but it recommends eating a balanced diet as this is good for your overall health.

The World Cancer Research Fund says that you should eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb, and “eat little, if any” processed meat.

It suggests you should aim to eat no more than about three portions a week of red meat, and “if you do eat red meat, cutting down can help protect against bowel cancer”.

The organisation says: “We recommend eating very little, if any, processed meat because strong evidence shows that it can be high in fat and salt, and eating it is a cause of bowel cancer.

“If you eat meat, it’s best to choose unprocessed meat,” it suggests.

It notes that researchers are still investigating how red meat causes cancer, but one possible way involves a compound called haem, which contains iron and gives red meat its colour.

“Haem can trigger the formation of cancer causing compounds which have been shown to damage the lining of the bowel, which may cause bowel cancer,” it explains.

Processed meat, as well as predominantly being made from red meat, contains added nitrites and nitrates, “which can also be digested to form compounds that are thought to cause cancer” it says.

These meats can also be high in calories and fat, which can contribute to weight gain, it adds.

Cancer Research says eating a diet with lots of foods high in fibre, including wholegrains like wholemeal bread or brown rice, “reduces your risk of bowel cancer”.

Around nine in 10 people in the UK are not meeting the recommended amount of 30g of fibre a day, warns the charity.

It explains: “Fibre helps us to poo more often, increases the size of poos and dilutes their contents. This means harmful chemicals spend less time in the bowel.

“When fibre meets the bacteria in the bowel, the bacteria make something called butyrate. Butyrate helps the cells in our bowel to stay healthy, so that tumours are less likely to develop.”

Cancer Research says: “Not smoking is the biggest thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.

“Chemicals in cigarette smoke get into our bloodstream and can cause damage around the body. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is quit.”

Moreover, being a healthy weight has lots of benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer.

It notes: “Being overweight doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely develop cancer. But if you are overweight you are more likely to get cancer than if you are a healthy weight.”

The charity says people keeping a healthy weight could prevent around 22,800 cases of cancer every year in the UK.

Indeed, Macmillan explains around one in three cases of the most common cancers could be prevented by eating a healthy diet, keeping to a healthy weight and being more active.

“There are some things you can do to lower your risk of developing cancer. But you cannot reduce your risk completely through your lifestyle,” it states.

Drinking alcohol increases your risk of mouth and throat cancers, Macmillan notes.

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