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Nutrition in adult and childhood cancer: role of carcinogens and anti-carcinogens

Journal title
Anticancer research
Publication year
Mosby, T. T.; Cosgrove, M.; Sarkardei, S.; Platt, K. L.; Kaina, B.

There is no doubt that diet is one of the main modifiable risk factors for many degenerative diseases, including cancer. More than 30% of adult cancers can be prevented or delayed by diet, being physically active and having a healthy body weight. Plant-based foods, including fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, a favorable omega-6/omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids ratio, and fish consumption have a protective effect against cancer. On the contrary, a low intake of fruit and vegetables, high intake of red and processed meat, high intake of sodium, alcohol consumption, a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, and a high intake of total fat may increase risk of cancer. Furthermore, calorie restriction and having a body/mass index on the lower end of the normal range can significantly decrease or delay the onset of cancers. Most studies were performed on adults and thus the role of diet in childhood cancer is less well-understood. In the past, diet was not considered to play any role in its etiology in children. However, nowadays there is a growing body of evidence that prolonged and frequent breastfeeding, the maternal diet during pregnancy and vitamin intake during pregnancy, may impart benefit for reduced cancer risk in children. Usually, decades of healthy dietary habits are needed to see significant difference in cancer risk. Therefore, diet choices and diet preparation starting early in life deserve more attention. Here we review data focusing on which dietary factors, including food-borne carcinogens, affect the onset of cancers in adults and stress out the potential role of diet in childhood cancer prevention.

Research abstracts