CNN Food and Health

Cancer and diet: Eating right pays off


November 14, 1995
Web posted at: 4:20 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Elizabeth Schwartz

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- One cancer prevention method could be as close as your refrigerator. "Our best estimate is that if we all ate a perfect, healthy diet, we could eliminate maybe 35 percent of cancer deaths," said Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society. (95K AIFF sound or 95K WAV sound)

We've heard over and over again: keep your weight down, eat more fruits, vegetables and grains and stay away from fat.

Adding certain foods to the diet has been shown to prevent a variety of cancers, from breast and prostate to colorectal. But what's needed is real food, not vitamin and mineral supplements from a bottle. "It would be easy if we could just take a pill," but that's not the answer, Thun said.


"Cancer is not inevitable"

-- Dr. Micheal Thun, American Cancer Society

salad Doctors say better eating habits over the past 60 years have reduced stomach cancer deaths by 85 percent. "It's an example that cancer is not inevitable," Thun said. (150K AIFF sound or 150K WAV sound) Sixty years ago, transportation wasn't as efficient as it is now, so people had less access to fresh produce. And refrigeration was less sophisticated than today, so people were forced to eat more smoke and preserved meats. Nitrates, used to preserve those meats, have been linked to cancer.

Of course, a perfect diet is still no guarantee of perfect health. "Even if everybody did everything right, some of us would still get cancer," Thun said. But eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, along with six servings of grains, is still a good start.

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