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Nutrition / Healthy Living

July 2008

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center provides information in July about making healthy food choices to reduce your risks of developing cancer.

Cancer Basics– Learn more about preventing cancer.
Reducing your Risks – Prevent cancer by making healthy food choices.
Prevention Studies – Discover ways you can prevent cancer.
Additional Resources – Learn about other valuable M. D. Anderson resources.

Cancer Basics

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, at least 20% of all cancers could be prevented by adopting relatively simple eating habits.

Research has shown that eating more vegetables and fruits greatly lowers your risk of developing several cancers, including lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach and colon.

At least 150 studies conducted since the early 1980s have suggested that people who consistently consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables are half as likely to develop cancer as people whose diets lack fruits and vegetables.

Consult your health care provider for advice regarding your own specific health situation.

Reducing Your Risks

M. D. Anderson recommends that people follow the dietary guidelines set by the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Below are some general suggestions:

  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits each day, especially those with the most color, which is a sign of high-nutrient content. Eat more vegetables than fruit because fruit has more calories
  • Eat low-fat or nonfat dairy products every day. Calcium, found in low-fat and nonfat dairy products may protect against colorectal cancer
  • Limit your intake of red meat
  • Limit your intake of fat, especially saturated (animal-based) fats
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol, if you drink at all
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and starchy plant foods

Tips for healthy eating

Eating more vegetables and fruits every day is easier than you think – just aim for one or two servings at every meal and snack. 


  • Drink a glass of orange juice along with fruit and cereal for breakfast
  • Eat a salad that includes fresh, raw vegetables with dressing on the side for lunch
  • Have fruit for an afternoon snack
  • Try whole grain pasta with tomato and mushroom sauce for dinner
  • Grate vegetables like carrots and zucchini into spaghetti sauce, meatloaf and casseroles
  • Keep bite-sized vegetables as snacks
  • Make smoothies with non-fat milk, fruit and ice
  • Order meatless pizza with veggies

Community Involvement

Making smart choices about nutrition can be simple, especially for children. According to the American Cancer Society, there are ways community leaders can create a healthy environment for youth:

  • Increase access to healthy foods in schools and workplaces.
  • Limit the advertisement of foods and beverages with low nutritional values in schools.
  • Encourage restaurants to provide nutrition information on menus.
  • Support the development of bike lanes, sidewalks and access to green spaces.
  • Encourage physical activity in schools.

Prevention Studies

Cancer prevention studies investigate how healthy people may prevent cancer. People at high risk of getting cancer may benefit from participation in a prevention study.
Read more

Additional Resources

Here are some other valuable resources from M. D. Anderson:

  • Cancer Prevention Center– M. D. Anderson's Cancer Prevention Center can help you learn to reduce your cancer risk
  • Prevention – Find additional information on cancer risk-reduction strategies, including tips for healthy eating
  • Nutrition and Cancer – What we eat is related to more cases of cancer than you may think. Up to one-third of cancers may be linked to nutrition
  • Department of Clinical Nutrition – Our dietitians and dietetic specialists provide nutrition assessment and counseling to our patients and their guests
  • CancerWise – The M. D. Anderson blog that offers current information and commentary from staff and faculty bloggers on cancer treatment, prevention and research.
  • askMDAnderson – Obtain answers to your questions on cancer prevention and treatment or M. D. Anderson programs and services
  • Make a Donation – Help us in our fight to eliminate cancer
  • Schedule a Speaker – Schedule a speaker to educate your workplace or community group in the Houston area about cancer prevention and awareness

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center