Changing Your Eating Habits May Help Prevent Cancer

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Though it often has no known cause, there are many cancers that are strongly linked to lifestyle factors, like obesity and poor eating habits.

We overeat, eat the wrong foods, fill up on fat and all that leads to 65% of Americans being overweight.

Johns Hopkins dietician Mary Eve Brown says, "As obesity rates go up, that could also be linked with the cancer incidence going up." Brown says up to 40% of cancer is caused by lifestyle factors, like poor eating habits. "If you make small changes, you can reduce your cancer risk by 60%."

To do that, fit in twenty to thirty-five grams of fiber a day. Half a cup of beans and one serving of bran cereal each have five grams. Next, get five to nine servings of veggies every day. Brown explains, "A serving is a half a cup cooked, or a cup raw."

Two cups of cooked veggies for dinner and a salad at lunch is enough. And if you crave meat, marinate it. Use acidic lemon or vinegar-based marinades to significantly reduce cancerous chemicals. "The good thing about a cancer-prevention diet, it's the same for all diseases."

Eden Stotsky wishes she had paid attention to her diet sooner. She was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 26. She tells us, "I can't help but to think that the diet I had before, had something to do with the reason why I got cancer to begin with."

Six years later, Eden has changed her eating habits. "My diet now is very high in fiber, so instead of eating white bread, I would eat wheat bread. Instead of eating white rice, I'll eat brown rice."

With a better diet and no cancer in sight, she leads an education program at Johns Hopkins, which keeps her focused on her remission.

Fruit is also a great way to pack fiber into your diet. And here's another tip: grilling over foil, rather than an open flame, can also lower the risk of cancerous chemicals when you're grilling meat.