The recommendations put forward by the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) have been shown to significantly reduce overall cancer risk and the risk or several types of cancers, following an extensive study involving more than 41.000 participants.
These include consuming plant-based, high-fiber foods, mainly whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes, but also maintaining an active lifestyle. Certain restrictions and limitations concern alcohol, red and processed meat, fast food products and sugar-sweetened drinks.
Researchers also evaluated other nutritional/dietary scoring systems, namely the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the French Nutrition and Health Program-Guidelines Score, and the MEDI-LITE score, which measures adherence to a Mediterranean diet. While all four showed meaningful cancer risk reductions, the WCRF/AICR recommendations still had the strongest association with reduced risks for overall cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
Mathilde Touvier, PhD, MPH, MSc, director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team, University of Paris, France and senior author noted that “Results of the sensitivity analyses suggest that these strong and consistent associations were not driven by one specific component, but rather by a synergistic contribution of the different components of the score”.
The study took place between May 2009 and January 2017, during which time 1.489 cases of cancer were reported. By using multivariable Cox proportional hazard models, the team found that a 1-point increase in the WCRF/AICR score was associated with a 12% decrease in overall cancer risk, a 14% percent decrease in breast cancer risk, and a 12% decrease in prostate cancer risk.
Data also supported the latest findings that indicate alcohol as a considerable risk factor for many cancers. “In its last report, the WCRF stated that there is now strong, convincing evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risks of oropharyngeal, esophagus, liver, colorectal, and postmenopausal breast cancers”, added Dr. Touvier.
It can be difficult to follow a healthy program for both nutrition and lifestyle, but most of the time you only need moderation and common sense. Don’t think of it as a rigid plan, but rather find ways of adapting it to your particular needs and situation. And don’t give up or get discouraged!