a LaFrance Consulting Services™ e-Course
Nutrition for Liberal Arts Students, independent study


As we think we understand cancer, the disease begins with DNA damage caused by radiation, chemicals, and some viruses. Radiation includes X-rays and cosmic rays, UV light [a, b, and c; including natural sunlight and tanning booths], and visible light down to blue or perhaps green; but NOT long waves such as red light, Infrared, microwaves [including microwave ovens], and radio waves [including cell phones]. Chemicals include exotic man-made chemicals plus many natural [plant-based] toxins, plus several chemicals found in smoke from burning plants and plant leaves [such as tobacco and marijuana]. Some DNA damage typical of cancerous cells is repaired, while other but similar damage does not get repaired. When the DNA damage does not get repaired, the cells may [or may not] become cancerous, and begin reproducing much faster than normal Human cells. This rapid growth produces a tumor which interferes with normal function of the organ in which the tumor is growing. Eventually cells break off the tumor and travel in the circulatory system and lodge elsewhere [a process called metastasis, then resume their growth to a new tumor. The top ten [David Letterman may have a different list] risk factors for cancer are listed in the following table:

Cancer Risk Factors
10 physical inactivity
9 obesity
8 low vegetable and fruit intake
7 excess alcohol intake
6 unsafe sex
5 indoor use of solid fuels
4 air pollution
3 Hepatitus B or C viral infection
2 smoking
1 Cancer causing viruses
such as Human papilloma virus


Dietary guidelines to reduce cancer risk include the following:
        1. consume a plant-based diet
The premise is that high anti-oxidant foods will promote DNA repair, but I have not seen the clinical data to support these claims.
        2. eat foods low in saturated fats
        3. exclude charred or nitrate-preserved meats
These foods contain known carcinogens (clinical data support these claims).
        4. exclude smoking
This is not really a diet issue, but tobacco and other plants frequently smoked are high density sources of “substances known to the State of California…,” such as known carcinogens, which have been shown to be transported in smoke and absorbed from smoke through mucus membranes.
        5. exclude excess alcohol intake
        6. include physical activity
        7. lose excess weight

    Most of what I have read promoting diet as a method to reduce cancer risk appears to fall into the category of “fad” diets not supported by clinical research. Because the proposed diets for reducing the risks of cancer are either not supported by clinical data, or have not even been tested in a clinical sense, the treatment of these claims here is superficial at best.


© 2004-2010 TwoOldGuys ™

revised: 02 Sep 2010