Health comes by eating. Especially when it comes to cancer prevention. Recent research by the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research has linked the food consumption figures of more than 471 000 Europeans to the conclusion that one in three cancers can be prevented by food. We talked about it with Dr. Maria Chiara Tronconi, oncologist at Humanitas.
What risk factors can be prevented with food?
A study published in the journal “Plos Medicine”, the last stage of the “Epic” project, a maxi-study launched twenty-five years ago to study the role of diet and, more generally, of lifestyles in the onset of cancer, relates the quality of food and the risk of onset of cancer.
However, experts have been repeating this for several years now. A healthy diet prevents important risk factors such as overweight and obesity. A poor diet from a nutritional point of view, on the other hand, can facilitate the development of various neoplasms. There is a greater risk of cancer of the lung and gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, colorectal) among men, and of liver and breast cancer (after menopause) among women.
What indications to follow?
In France, “traffic light” products have already been introduced: a symbol guides consumers and helps them to recognise the best quality products and those that impoverish their diets with the help of coloured symbols. In Italy, companies have no obligation at the moment. Making it easier for consumers to obtain information on individual foods is a free choice for each brand.
What indications should we follow then? First of all, oncologists say, it’s a good idea to keep your weight within normal limits: exercise, follow a diet rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes, limit the consumption of prepared and processed foods, limit the consumption of red meat and sweetened drinks, not drink alcohol. Pay particular attention to salt, saturated fats, fibres and sugars: these are the ingredients that, if consumed excessively and too frequently, are related to a generally lower state of health and a higher risk of developing various chronic diseases.