As per the National Cancer Institute, roughly 38.4% of the men and women are diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. This confirms that cancer is one of the leading killers out there. Lucky for us, research suggests that 30-50% of all the cancers can be avoided by making the right lifestyle changes such as eating healthily.

Not only does nutrition play a vital role in slashing the risk of cancer, it also helps in the cancer recovery stages. Let’s check out foods that can be helpful for keeping cancer at bay and those that can increase the risk of developing cancer:

Foods that increase the risk of cancer

Eating excessive amounts of certain foods can up the odds of developing cancer. Mainly, such foods can be grouped under the following heads:

Processed meat

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers processed meat as carcinogenic. Such meat is treated to preserve its flavor. Hence, it undergoes curing, salting, or smoking.

Strong evidence indicates that such foods can amp up the risk of having stomach, bowel, and pancreatic cancer. A meta-analysis found that eating 50 grams of processed meat daily can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

Refined carbs and sugar

Both of these food categories ups the blood sugar levels, which poses high cancer risk. Refined carbs and sugar enriched foods also tend to be low in fiber, which plays a crucial role in the body including encouraging proper digestion of food.

A diet that is high in blood glucose levels increases the risk of stomach, colorectal, breast, and other cancers. Additionally, such high sugar levels can birth inflammation, which can lead to cancer.

Dairy products

Multiple observational studies show that dairy intake can swell the risk of developing prostate cancer. A study that surveyed about 4,000 men with prostate cancer found that a high intake of whole milk raised the risk of the disease.

Overcooked foods

Overcooked foods can also increase cancer risk. Such foods are made at high temperatures such as broiling, grilling, frying, and barbequing. This can result in harmful chemicals such as advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) and heterocyclic amines (HA).

Excess of these compounds can lead to inflammation, which encourages the development of cancer and other chronic diseases. To tone down the risk, try to avoid burning food and use gentler cooking ways such as stewing, steaming, and boiling.

Foods that cancer-fighting properties

Certain foods can help safeguard against cancer. Such foods include:

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits are packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants. These help to fight cancer. Similarly, vegetables can also lower the cancer risk because they contain phytochemicals and antioxidants.

For example, cruciferous veggies such as cabbage and broccoli contain sulforaphane that can lessen tumor size among mice by higher than 50%. Other helpful vegetables include tomatoes and carrots.


Fish is known for its composition that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These help fight inflammation, therefore, protecting against cancer. Some of the best picks include herring, tuna, sardine, mackerel, and salmon to name a few.

Olive oil

Olive oil also has a positive reputation when it comes to fending off cancer. In a study, people who took the highest amounts of olive oil lowered their risk of cancer by 42%.


Garlic is helpful in warding off cancer due its component, allicin, which is credited for its cancer-fighting properties. It is, specifically, helpful with reducing the risk of prostate and stomach cancer.

Other foods

You can also limit your risk of cancer by having other foods such as nuts, beans and legumes, and flaxseeds. Try to eat a plant-based diet, which can be incredibly helpful.