Taking Charge: Diet, Lifestyle and Cancer

Scientists are still learning about the relationship between diet and lifestyle factors and the development of may types of cancers. For some cancers, such as colon cancer, there appear to be clear links to diet and activity.

At this time, less is known about the effects of diet and lifestyle factors on ovarian cancer. In breast cancer, it appears that consumption of just a few alcoholic beverages per week may increase the risk of developing the disease. There is some evidence that diets high in fruits and vegetables decrease the risk for breast cancer, but the link is weaker than it is for other types of cancers.

Why Diet May Matter

Certain fruits and vegetables contain substances that appear to protect the body against the development of cancers. Some of these substances are called antioxidants, because they fight the oxygen-induced damage to body tissues that occurs as a result of normal body processes. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E, selenium, carotenoids and some other plant substances called phytochemicals.

Although researchers have shown that antioxidants in foods can help lower your risk of some cancers, artificial supplements do not seem to have this benefit.

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Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.