Expert Panel Advises on Reducing Cancer Risk Through Diet and Lifestyle

by Ella

At the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a panel of experts convened to discuss the critical role of diet and lifestyle in reducing the risk of cancer. While the adage “you are what you eat” has long been acknowledged, emerging research underscores the profound impact of diet on cancer risk, alongside conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Professor Edward Giovannucci, an expert in nutrition and epidemiology, highlighted the connection between diet-related factors and cancer promotion. Chronic inflammation, fueled by the consumption of ultra-processed foods and other dietary contributors, can predispose cells to disease over time. Foods high in sugars, unhealthy fats, and additives—typical of the ultra-processed category—have been linked to increased cancer rates. Processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs, also pose notable risks, as do alcohol consumption.


Timothy Rebbeck, Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Chan School, emphasized the role of chronic inflammation in cancer causation. Prolonged exposure to low-level inflammation, driven by dietary factors, can lead to cellular dysfunction and mutation—a key pathway in cancer development.


Eliza Leone, a registered dietitian, emphasized the importance of a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins for reducing cancer risk. The Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which prioritizes plant-based foods while incorporating whole grains and healthy proteins, serves as a valuable guideline for dietary choices. Leone stressed the need for moderation, advising against excessive consumption of red and processed meats.


While acknowledging the potential benefits of certain supplements, such as vitamin D and folate, panelists urged caution against megadosing. Giovannucci cautioned that excessive intake of certain compounds, like selenium and zinc, could promote cancer development.


In addition to dietary factors, the panel underscored the role of exercise in cancer prevention. Regular physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of various cancers, thanks in part to its anti-inflammatory effects.

While intermittent fasting has gained popularity, particularly for its purported weight management benefits, its impact on cancer risk remains uncertain. Leone cautioned against using fasting as a license to indulge in unhealthy eating habits, emphasizing the importance of sustainable dietary choices and portion control.

Leone encouraged individuals to take practical steps toward improving their nutrition, starting with increased comfort in the kitchen. With the overwhelming array of dietary recommendations, she emphasized the importance of taking small, achievable steps toward healthier eating habits.

In conclusion, the panel emphasized the significant impact of diet and lifestyle choices on cancer risk. By adopting a balanced diet rich in whole foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and practicing moderation, individuals can take proactive steps toward reducing their risk of cancer and promoting overall health and well-being.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023