Q: I’m following a heart-healthy diet. How can I adapt that for cancer prevention?
A: Eating for heart health and cancer prevention aren’t as different as you may think. We used to think about heart disease and cancer as having separate risk factors, but now we know that just as tobacco increases risk of both, eating and physical activity habits also affect risk of both.
Parents are key when it comes to shaping children’s diet and physical activity. Moms and dads not only model eating, exercise and other health habits, they are also the gatekeepers for what food is served at home and what sports or other activities are available to the family. These influences likely have a profound effect on a child’s weight and therefore their weight as an adult. And kids who grow into adults with obesity are then at a higher risk for many cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and liver.
Eating vegetables and fruit are key to a healthy, cancer-protective diet, yet few Americans meet the daily serving recommendations, with low-income consumers finding it especially difficult. But a recent study demonstrated how a brief discussion combined with a $10 voucher incentive could modestly boost families’ vegetable and fruit consumption.