Diet can play a major role in cancer prevention. The international differences in cancer incidence are largely accounted for by lifestyle practices that include nutrition, exercise, and alcohol and tobacco use. About 50% of cancer incidence and 35% of cancer mortality in the U.S., represented by cancers of the breast, prostate, pancreas, ovary, endometrium, and colon, are associated with Western dietary habits. Cancer of the stomach, currently a major disease in the Far East, relates to distinct, specific nutritional elements such as excessive salt intake. For these cancers, information is available on possible initiating genotoxic factors, promoting elements, and prophylactic agents. In general, the typical diet in the United States contains low levels of the potent carcinogenic agents, heterocyclic amines, formed during the cooking of meats. It provides only about half the potent appropriate fiber intake and is high in calories. About twice as many calories as would be desirable come from fat, certain kinds of which enhance the development of cancers. Other foods with functional properties, such as soy products and tea, can be beneficial. To achieve reduction in risk of certain cancers, diet must be optimized, primarily to reduce caloric intake and the fat component. The latter should be 20% or less of total caloric intake and fiber should be increased to 25-35 g per day for adults. One approach to achieving these goals is the Fiber First Diet, a diet designed around adequate fiber intake from grains, especially cereals, vegetables, legumes, and fruits, which thereby reduces both calorie and fat intake. Such dietary improvements will not only reduce cancer and other chronic disease risks, but will contribute to a healthy life to an advanced age. A corollary benefit is a lower cost of medical care.
Williams GM, Williams CL, Weisburger JH. Diet and cancer prevention: the fiber first diet. Toxicol Sci. 1999 December Department of Pathology, New York Medical College, Valhalla 10595, USA.