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Diet’s Effect on Cancer

Author: Jiayi Chen

Editor: Ken Saito

Artist: Denise Suarez

Cancer, the abnormal growth of the cells, is one of the deadliest diseases on earth. While people can not prevent cancer completely, there are ways to lower the risk of cancer. One of the ways, dieting, is an essential part of our health and impacts our chances of getting cancer in many ways.

Numerous aspects of our diets can affect the risk of cancer in our bodies. This includes but isn’t limited to; red meats, processed meats, and sugary beverages. Alcohol is one that can often put people’s lives at risk. No matter how much alcohol people ingest each day, people who drink alcohol tend to have higher chances of getting cancer. Alcohol contains a chemical called acetaldehyde, which can cause damage to DNA and prompt tumor growth.

According to a scientific review published in Cancer Epidemiology, roughly 5.5% of cancer cases are related to alcohol.

Similarly, the general diet is also responsible for 5.2% of cancer cases in 2015. Studies have found over 75% of calories consumed per day in the United States are from processed food and high sugar content beverages, which all increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. These foods and drinks lead to weight gain, and obesity is a severe risk factor for cancer.

Red meats and processed meats are two other factors that lead to an increase in cancer risk. When people consume these meats, the gut microbe in their body undergoes metabolism that leads to spark inflammation. It can potentially lead to damage of DNA, causing colorectal cancer.

Research indicates that high dairy consumption may also increase the risk of breast, prostate, and endometrial cancers. Dairy contains Saturated fat, IGF-1, calcium, and sex hormones, all of which are constituents linked to cancer.

On the contrary, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are low-fat diets that contain naturally occurring sugar that reduces the risk of many cancers. Research has indicated that these diets contain anti-cancer antioxidants and phytochemicals. Another study suggests that the mortality rate of people who have colorectal cancer with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in their diet is 20% lower than others.

In conclusion, diet does not guarantee salvation from cancer but can still help reduce the risk if taken seriously. Foods beneficial to a healthy diet include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Foods to cut down on would be dairy products, red meats, processed meats, and sugary beverages. A proper diet has many benefits, and it’s a simple matter to fix.



Jacqueline Howard, C. (2019, May 22). Thousands of cancer diagnoses tied to a poor diet,

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Hudepohl, D. (2021, January 22). Cancer and diet: Here's what you should know. Retrieved

N/A, G. (2020, August 25). Can a healthy diet prevent cancer? Retrieved February 07, 2021,

Brown, Mary Jane. “Cancer and Diet 101: How What You Eat Can Influence Cancer.”

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