Young woman sits surrounded by vegetables, holds them in her arms and has cabbage leaves on her head.

Cancer prevention with diet and lifestyle

Alt­hough the importance of nut­ri­ti­on for phy­si­cal well-being has been known sin­ce anci­ent times, it often only plays a sub­or­di­na­te role in modern socie­ty. Accor­ding to Tra­di­tio­nal Chi­ne­se Medi­ci­ne (TCM), the best pre­ven­ti­on is 80 per­cent life­style inclu­ding diet, 10 per­cent acu­p­unc­tu­re, and 10 per­cent her­bal medi­ci­ne. This is of cour­se only one approach, but the num­ber of sci­en­ti­fic artic­les and fin­dings on the posi­ti­ve effects of nut­ri­ti­on and life­style on health and on can­cer pre­ven­ti­on has also increased con­ti­nuous­ly in recent years.

Lifestyle factors

A good life­style takes into account how careful­ly we live our dai­ly lives, how we get up in the mor­ning, what we eat and many other fac­tors such as exer­cise, deal­ing with work and other peo­p­le, fami­ly ties, faith and reli­gi­on, fear and atti­tu­de towards ill­ness and death . And of cour­se how we go to sleep in the evening.

Sci­en­tists from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty (USA) found that up to ten years of life can be gai­ned if you live healt­hy in your 50s. How it works? Through risk-mini­mi­zing fac­tors, peo­p­le have the influence in their own hands. It is a well-known fact that peo­p­le who live a healt­hy life deve­lop chro­nic dise­a­ses such as dia­be­tes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dise­a­ses or can­cer much later.

The US sci­en­tists defi­ned the fol­lo­wing life­style fac­tors as a mea­su­re of a healt­hy lifestyle:

  • never smo­ker
  • BMI 18,5–24,9 kg/m2
  • dai­ly exer­cise (≥ 30 min)
  • qua­li­ty nutrition
  • mode­ra­te alco­hol con­sump­ti­on (women 5–15 g/day, men 5–30 g/day)

If four of the five life­style fac­tors were taken into account, the avera­ge dise­a­se-free life expec­tancy was 31.1 years. And that with a stu­dy group of 50-year-old Ame­ri­cans. Diet pro­ba­b­ly plays the most important role in the area of life­style factors.

Food for health

Can­cer is a wide­spread dise­a­se that puts a strain on tho­se affec­ted, their fami­lies and the enti­re health­ca­re sys­tem. This dise­a­se often cau­ses com­ple­te uphe­avals in the patient’s life as well as enorm­ous eco­no­mic cos­ts for socie­ty. Howe­ver, around 50% of glo­bal cases could be avo­ided through impro­ved indi­vi­du­al life­style. The­r­e­fo­re, in par­ti­cu­lar, the balan­ced diet needs a new
assi­gned importance in order to pro­tect health and pre­vent diseases.

One of the most important orga­niza­ti­ons in the field of can­cer pre­ven­ti­on through nut­ri­ti­on and life­style is the inter­na­tio­nal­ly acti­ve WCRF (World Can­cer Rese­arch Fund). A life­style that fol­lows the WCRF recom­men­da­ti­ons pro­mo­tes can­cer pre­ven­ti­on and thus health. A mindful life­style enables the avo­id­ance of can­cer and other chro­nic dise­a­ses (non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dise­a­ses; NCDs). Alt­hough almost ever­yo­ne knows that can­cer is one of the big­gest cau­ses of death in Ger­ma­ny (with about 25% in second place), only a frac­tion of the popu­la­ti­on adhe­res to sci­en­ti­fi­cal­ly eva­lua­ted recommendations.

These 10 WCRF recommendations help reduce your own risk of cancer:

  1. Main­tain a healt­hy weight / stay slim
  2. Lots of exercise
  3. Vege­ta­bles, fruits, beans and who­le grains
  4. Redu­ce fast food and soft drinks
  5. Redu­ce red and pro­ces­sed meat
  6. Litt­le alcohol
  7. No nut­ri­tio­nal supplement
  8. Do not smoke
  9. For mothers: breast­feed if possible
  10. Go to the doc­tor, fol­low recom­men­da­ti­ons after diagnosis

(Coun­seling Cen­ter for Nut­ri­ti­on Munich 2019)

Ori­gi­nal repre­sen­ta­ti­on of the 10 recom­men­da­ti­ons for can­cer pre­ven­ti­on of the WCRF. Source: World Can­cer Rese­arch Fund

The­re is an urgent need to make can­cer pre­ven­ti­on a more social issue. Healt­hy diet and life­style mea­su­res should be pro­mo­ted. Becau­se the topic of nut­ri­ti­on is also a cen­tral aspect in life. Sup­port­ing tre­at­ment, regai­ning ener­gy, main­tai­ning health after the­ra­py, enjoy­ing coo­king and eating despi­te limi­ta­ti­ons… the list of mea­nings for ever­y­day life with can­cer is long.

Gynecology and nutrition

Gyneco­lo­gists look after women of all ages and are the only group of spe­cia­lists who have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to posi­tively influence the health of their pati­ents in every pha­se of life. Ide­al­ly, edu­ca­ti­on about healt­hy eating, obe­si­ty and the con­se­quen­ces beg­ins during the girls’ consultation.


Tra­di­tio­nel­le chi­ne­si­sche Medi­zin, Dr. med. Georg Wei­din­ger

Li Y et al. BMJ 2020; 368: l6669;


Was hat Frau­en­heil­kun­de mit Ernäh­rungs­me­di­zin zu tun?,

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