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Diet and Disease
Cancer Facts
By: Tricia Fleming,
Department of Health Dietetic Intern,
Tammy Beason, MS, RD, 
Nutrition Education Specialist,
Candance Gabel, MS, RD, LD
Associate State Nutrition Specialist,
Family Nutrition Education Program
Family Nutrition
Education Programs

Nutrition and Lifeskills for Missouri Families

Why should I be concerned about Cancer?
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US after heart disease. It kills one out of every four Americans.

What is Cancer?
Cancer is a very general term. It begins when a cell starts to unnecessarily divide and forms excess tissue known as a tumor. Tumors can be malignant. A malignant tumor infiltrates surrounding tissue and spreads throughout the body. A tumor can also be defined as benign. A benign tumor is localized and does not spread throughout the body. Cancer can occur in any cell in the body.

What causes Cancer?
The cause is generally unknown; researchers are gaining a good knowledge of what can contribute to the occurrence of cancer. Some factors are diet, obesity, cigarette and tobacco use, long-term exposure to chemicals, exposure to high levels of radiation, some viruses, and immune system disease.

What are the symptoms of Cancer?
Unfortunately, most cancers do not have any symptoms until they are well advanced. There are many methods of early detection. A great guideline to follow is to use


C Changes in bowel or bladder habits
A A sore that will not heal
U Unusual bleeding or discharge
T Thickening or lump in breast or any part of the body
I Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
O Obvious change in a wart or mole
N Nagging cough or hoarseness

Can Cancer be prevented with dietary intervention?

The American Cancer Society has established some basic guidelines:

Choose most of the foods you eat from plant sources

  • Include fruits and veggies in every meal
  • Eat other foods from plant sources such as breads, cereals, grain products, rice, pasta or beans several times a day.

Limit your intake of high-fat foods, particularly from animal sources

  • Choose baked and broiled instead of fried
  • Select non-fat and low-fat dairy products

Be physically active: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • Be physically active for 30 minutes on most days of the week

Limit alcohol consumption, if you drink at all

Related Topics


Other Diet and Disease Educational Support Materials:
Cancer  Diabetes  Heart Disease  Hypertension 
Osteoporosis  Phytochemicals



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last updated: 10/27/08
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