30 August 2019
Women’s health week is here and to help you make healthier choices, we are here to clear up some claims about cancer.
We’ve all heard the claims and asked the questions—Does dairy cause cancer? Should I be taking a supplement? Is organic food better than conventional food? Can soft drink cause cancer?
The questions go on…and it’s often difficult to work out fact from fiction.
So here are some of the most commonly asked questions about what we eat, and the truth around how it affects your cancer risk:
Does organic food prevent or cure cancer?
Insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption is estimated to cause around 1,800 cancer cases in Australia each year, however, there is no evidence that organic produce is higher in the nutrients that help to prevent cancer than fruit and vegetables farmed in conventional ways. To give your body the best, aim to eat five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day.
Do antioxidants prevent cancer?
There is some evidence that foods with high levels of antioxidants, such as fruit and vegetables, offer a protective effect against certain cancers. However, this has not been shown with antioxidants in concentrated forms (i.e. supplements). And for people undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments, such supplements may be harmful. Find out more here.
Does eating too much red meat and processed meat cause cancer?
There is convincing evidence that red meat and processed meat—like salami, bacon and ham—increases the risk of bowel cancer and the more you eat, the higher the risk. Swapping red meat for chicken, fish or vegetarian options can be a great alternative. Click here to find out how much meat you should be eating.
Do dairy foods cause cancer?
In terms of cancer risk, research into the consumption of dairy foods and calcium have shown to be inconclusive. However, due to the strong body of evidence to support the overall health benefits of consuming dairy foods, Cancer Council supports the Australian Dietary Guidelines and recommends consuming dairy foods as part of a well-balanced diet.
Are artificial sweeteners safe?
There have also been claims that chemicals in soft drinks can increase cancer risk. While some studies have detected very low levels of chemicals such as benzene and 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel) in certain soft drinks, there is no evidence they increase the risk of cancer at the low levels found in soft drinks. The chemicals have been found to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) in other types of exposures, but at far higher levels than present in food or drink. For more information click here.
Remember—when it comes to diet, there are steps you can take to reduce your cancer risk, but there is no one food that can protect against cancer. A healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from the five food groups is always best.
For more answers like this head to iheard where experts will answer any question you may have; or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 and speak to one of our qualified cancer nurses.