5 Lifestyle Habits That Could Be Putting You at Risk for Cancer

 In Cancer

A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients is essential for maintaining a healthy body and reducing the risk of cancer. Here’s how different food groups contribute to cancer prevention, according to Dr. Ashish Gupta, a USA trained, American board-certified medical oncologist, and Chief of Medical Oncology at Unique Hospital Cancer Centre, Dwarka, India:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, fruits and vegetables play a crucial role in reducing the risk of various cancers, especially those affecting the digestive system. Incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet can provide protective benefits against cancer.
  • Whole Grains and Legumes: Opting for whole grains like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat, along with legumes such as lentils and beans, can help lower the risk of colorectal cancer. These fiber-rich foods aid in digestion and promote overall gut health.
  • Lean Proteins: Choose lean sources of protein such as fish, poultry, tofu, nuts, and seeds over processed meats like bacon and sausage. Processed meats have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, making it advisable to limit their consumption, especially in children.
  • Healthy Fats: Incorporating sources of healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts into your diet can help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Conversely, diets high in saturated and trans fats, often found in processed and fried foods, may increase cancer risk, particularly prostate cancer.
  • Dairy and Alternatives: Opt for reduced-fat dairy products and alternatives to maintain a healthy balance of calcium and protein in your diet. High intake of dairy fat has been associated with an elevated risk of prostate cancer, so moderation is key.

Lifestyle Factors and Cancer Risk

Dr Ashish Gupta said, in addition to diet, several lifestyle factors can influence the likelihood of developing cancer. Here are some important considerations:

  • Smoking: Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer worldwide. Quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke are crucial steps in reducing the risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise not only helps maintain a healthy weight but also reduces the risk of various cancers, including breast and colon cancer. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Limiting alcohol intake can significantly lower the risk of several cancers, such as those of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast. It’s recommended to adhere to moderate drinking guidelines to minimize cancer risk.
  • Sun Protection: Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays by wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and seeking shade can reduce the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

Specific Foods and Their Impact on Cancer Risk

Understanding how certain foods can affect the risk of specific types of cancer is crucial for making informed dietary choices. Here’s a closer look at some common cancers and dietary recommendations by Dr Ashish Gupta:

  • Lung Cancer: While fruits and vegetables offer some protection against lung cancer, the most effective prevention strategy remains avoiding tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke.
  • Breast Cancer: Incorporating mono-unsaturated fats from sources like olive oil and increasing vegetable intake can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Limiting alcohol consumption is also important for breast cancer prevention.
  • Prostate Cancer: Men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, consuming vegetables like tomatoes rich in lycopene, and avoiding a high-fat diet predominantly from animal sources.
  • Bowel Cancer: A diet high in fiber from vegetables and grains, along with limited consumption of red and processed meats, can help lower the risk of bowel cancer. Additionally, maintaining an active lifestyle is beneficial.


In conclusion, adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer. As per Dr Ashish Gupta, incorporating nutrient-rich foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, you can take proactive steps towards cancer prevention. Remember, small changes in your diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on your long-term health and well-being.

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