Link between nutrition and cancer: how to reduce the risk of early disease and death

We’ve all heard the old adage, “you are what you eat”, a phrase often used as a lighthearted admonishment when indulging in a nice but naughty treat. However, this sentiment is far from flippant, as nutrition is the singular most important element in the preservation of our physical and mental health.


In fact, food has been considered as ‘medicine’ for centuries in many different cultures and a report in the Medical News Today garners the opinions of international healthcare professionals about the impact of diet on health. The simple fact is that good nutrition is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system, promoting safer pregnancies and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancers and diabetes. Regular full medical check-ups can confirm the benefits of a good diet and lifestyle.


Unhealthy lifestyle increases risk by up to 400%

According Dr. Stephen Kopeck, cardiovascular specialist at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, “Nutrition is currently the number one cause of early death and early disease in the USA and the world”.   On the genes versus lifestyle debate, Dr. Kopecky has outlined the disparity between levels of risk associated with both positions. Research has shown that for people with genes for disease the risk rate of contracting early disease or death is between 30% to 40%, whereas the risk associated with an unhealthy lifestyle increases to an eyewatering level of between 300% to 400%.


In simple terms, a bad diet can adversely affect all areas of the body, causing serious medical conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Incredibly, around 57% of the calories consumed in the USA are comprised of ultra-processed convenience or non-nutritious food. Non-nutritious foods such as high sugar, fat and sodium diets can cause inflammation which leads to a wide range of health conditions.


Links between nutrition and cancer

An article published on outlines the strong links between diet and obesity and this condition significantly increases risk of developing certain cancers.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also linked many important cancers directly to obesity, including breast (in menopausal women), colon, rectal, esophagus, pancreas, endometrium, liver and kidney cancers.  Surprisingly, 30% of early cancer deaths are attributed to a bad diet, making nutrition the second most important risk factor behind smoking with regards to early deaths from cancer.


Why is obesity so closely linked to chronic disease and cancer?

In very simple terms, fat cells are associated with excessive insulin production, and after the menopause these cells also produce larger amounts of estrogen which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells.  Similarly, immune cells are directed to the parts of the body where there are fat cells, this causes the cells to divide quicker, which over time can also cause cancer.


Eat naturally to reduce risk

The recommended healthy dietary pattern is to eat natural unprocessed food in order to avoid becoming obese and suffering the risks associated with obesity. To remain healthy, the body needs to digest food and to expend the energy, but this cannot be achieved if calories are constantly being consumed. Instead, it is necessary to feed and then fast to allow the body time to use the energy.


Rather than adopting specific ‘cancer beating diets’, simple changes to the frequency of meals, quantity and type of food consumed can make a big difference. The focus should be on adopting a holistic approach to wellbeing and health, in order to mitigate the risk of contracting heart issues, weight problems, diabetes and cancer.


There are many studies covering different dietary patterns and their various health benefits, for example the Mediterranean diet is often recommended for its high percentage of natural unprocessed food and antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.


Better habits for improved health

No one is saying that you cannot enjoy your favourite meal, a glass of wine or a Whisky, but overindulgence in any carcinogenic substance is not recommended. It is possible to turn the clock back to reduce the risk of developing cancer by adopting a healthier lifestyle of eating a nutritional diet, enjoying regular physical activity and drinking alcohol in moderation.

Executive cancer screening

In addition to adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle, with today’s latest medical technology it is possible to further minimize the risk of developing cancer by undergoing cancer screening. At Executive Health’s modern clinic in Marbella, a team of specialists can identify early cancer and pre-cancerous tissue via medical imaging. This means it is possible to diagnose all types of common cancers in asymptomatic patients.


If you would like more information about the range and benefits of Executive Health’s cancer screening programmes, please visit the website, contact [email protected] or call or whatapp +34 670 674 246.