Opinion

Eating right is one of best ways to prevent cancer

From Simon Chaitowitz of the nonprofit vegan group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:

As a two-time cancer survivor, I would love to see Tony Snow's tragic death last week help raise awareness about colorectal cancer. The former White House press secretary was just three years younger than me and I know all too well how tough his battle was. Sadly, it's one that 50,000 Americans lose each year.

When famous people pass away, their deaths often inspire news coverage. Unfortunately, the articles often focus on early detection or the latest treatments.

As someone who detected her first cancer early and lives with many complications from various treatments, I know there's an infinitely better approach. It's cheaper, less painful, and comes with fewer side effects. It's called prevention.

One way we can help prevent cancer is to eat right. But what constitutes “eating right” is often up for debate.

Food manufacturers and their lobbyists like to pretend that even the most unhealthful foods – like hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats – are OK in moderation. But late last year, the game was up.

That's when the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research released a landmark report on diet and cancer risk. The scientists announced that when it comes to colon cancer, there is absolutely no amount of processed meat that's safe to eat.

What is it about processed meats that can cause cancer? Scientists actually aren't certain. Processed meats contain plenty of fat, especially saturated fat, as well as cholesterol, salt and heme iron, which promotes the production of carcinogens. The nitrites used as preservatives, coloring or flavoring agents can also produce carcinogens.

So, if there's one thing you can do to help keep your family healthy, it's to replace meats with healthier choices. Then, when you see a headline about a [famous person] who's succumbed to cancer, you'll know you're doing the best you can do.

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