Relationship Between Diet And Cancer

Environmental or exogenous factors play an important role in the development of tumors. In fact, it is estimated that 98% of tumors are due to such factors. Among these environmental factors is diet.

The development of cancer is influenced mainly by two factors, one genetic or endogenous and another environmental, also called exogenous. Among the exogenous factors, we also find biological, chemical and physical factors.

Environmental or exogenous factors play an important role in the development of tumors. In fact, it is estimated that 98% of tumors are due to such factors. Among these environmental factors is diet.

The role of food in carcinogenic development can vary depending on each person.  And especially, depending on the type of cancer. Those that affect the digestive system, such as stomach and large bowel cancer, can be related to food in up to 90% of cases.

The Role of diet in the development of cancer

In 1942, the first animal studies were carried out. The aim was to demonstrate the relationship between diet and cancer. However, it was in 1960 when environmental aspects such as diet or habits and lifestyles were definitely linked to the appearance of cancer.

In this context, we will make a brief review of the food or macronutrients. These can play an important role in carcinogenic development.


The consumption of fats can alter the metabolism of prostaglandins.  This, in turn, can cause chemical components with a certain carcinogenic potential to accumulate indirectly in our reserves. On the other hand, fats increase the permeability of cell membranes.  What can cause a greater formation of free radicals. Which are involved in the oxidation of the organism, and ultimately, in the appearance of cancer.

However, the existence of these phenomena is closely related to the amount of ingested fats. In fact, the intake of an adequate and balanced amount of fats can have a protective action against cancer.  While high intakes of fats of poor quality will have a harmful action.


There are studies that indicate that LDL cholesterol, popularly, the bad cholesterol, promotes cell mobility and proliferation of tumor cells. Which in turn increases the risk of metastasis? On the contrary, the so-called good cholesterol or HDL would have a protective effect against cancer.

Other influential factors


The Alcohol one hand increases the permeability of the mucous membranes of the respiratory and digestive apparatus to carcinogens. On the other hand, alcohol can damage the DNA of cells. It would cause mutations in them, making them potentially carcinogenic.


Several studies have shown the preventive capacity of vitamins in the appearance of cancer. This type of nutrients is found abundantly in fruits and vegetables.

Some of its beneficial features are:

  • They are great antioxidants. Vitamins are capable of inactivating the reactive compounds of oxygen, in this way; they are able to prevent the formation of harmful free radicals.
  • They regulate cell differentiation. These nutrients play a very important role in cell differentiation, in this way; vitamins prevent the aberrant undifferentiation suffered by tumor cells.
  • Activate the immune system. Vitamins promote the proper functioning of the cells of the immune system, necessary for the elimination of tumor cells.
  • They inhibit cell proliferation. Vitamins, by promoting cell differentiation, in turn inhibit proliferation, so they have a suppressive effect on the high division characteristic of cancer cells.


Following a balanced diet can help prevent cancer. However, great care must be taken with the amounts ingested for each nutrient. The same food can have a protective action or a harmful action depending on them.

Some effective tips when it comes to preventing cancer are to follow a balanced diet, increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, avoid obesity or reduce the intake of alcohol.

It also stands out as a recommendation to prevent cancer using correct cooking methods. Avoiding the abuse of fried foods and smoked and salted products.

Finally, reduce the consumption of meat, especially red and processed meats. Avoiding refined polysaccharides, as well as precooked ones, fast foods or sweets, has a very beneficial result when it comes to preventing the appearance of cancer.

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