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In Part 1 of our “What You Need to Know About Processed Meat, Red Meat and Cancer Risk” series, Oncology Dietitian Rhone Levin broke down the International Agency for Research on Cancer and World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent report “Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat” (which found positive links between consuming red and processed meats and 18 types of cancer) and gave some of examples of processed meats, read meats and protein alternatives.

Now, we’re discussing reducing your cancer risk and ways to incorporate more plant foods.

What do I need to know to reduce my cancer risk?

It is estimated that half of colorectal cancers could be prevented with a healthy lifestyle including: maintaining or achieving a moderate weight, regular physical activity and eating several plant food servings each day, known as a “Plant Based Diet.” Cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention as closely as possible.

What are some easy ways to incorporate more plant foods?

  • Double your portion of vegetables

Serve two scoops instead of one at your evening meal and “super size” your salad!

  • Experiment with a new fruit or vegetable each week

Avoid the rut of the same old fruits and vegetables—variety is healthy and interesting.

  • Buy local produce

Enjoy what is ripe and in-season for the best flavor.

  • Grow your own fresh produce

Start small—an herb garden can be grown in a window or in pots on the porch. Try growing your favorite vegetables in several varieties and get the family involved with gardening and harvesting.

  • Put your crockpot to use

Soups, stews and one pot meals are an easy way to incorporate beans and vegetables in to meals.

  • Juice your vegetable nutrition

Vegetable juices abound in the grocery store or consider experimenting and making your own at home.

  • Choose fruit over fruit juice

Fruit juices are meant to be consumed in very small portions, as they are very concentrated in sugars and calories. Whole fruits offer fiber and additional nutrients you may miss out on in juice.

  • Convenience can be healthy too

There are several health-based frozen entrees available in the grocery freezer section and home delivery meal providers and snack items can also be quick and easy.

  • Dine out

Most restaurants have non-red meat or vegetarian options, so try something new! Asian, Mexican and Indian cuisines offer a variety of non-meat dishes.

  • Search online

Many websites, such as www.aicr.org, can help you find menus, recipes, restaurants and strategies for healthier eating.  

“Every time we eat, we have an opportunity to reduce our risk for cancer,” Dr. Christine L. Sardo Molmenti, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University, says. “The WHO report couldn’t be more clear about its position on supporting decades of research that have shed light on the unhealthy attributes of red and processed meats. If we can focus on the American Institute for Cancer Research’s long-standing recommendations to eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and be as active as possible, we will develop a pattern of prevention over time. This begins with composing a healthy plate that is 2/3 from grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables and the other 1/3 coming from lean meats and vegetable proteins.”

This blog was written by:

Rhone Levin, RDN, CSO, LD

Oncology Dietitian at Savor Health

Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. 


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