No single food or food substances can protect you against cancer.
But scientists believe that the right combination of foods in
a predominantly plant-based diet may. Evidence is mounting that
the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods interact
to provide extra cancer protection. This concept is called synergy.
In addition, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans are
low-energy-dense, low calorie foods and probably protect against
weight gain. According to the Second Expert Report, experts
believe that weight gain – particularly obesity and overweight
– are implicated in the development of cancer. Eating a predominantly
plant based diet can help prevent weight gain and therefore
protect against those cancers whose risk is convincingly increased
by higher body fat (namely cancers of the colorectum, esophagus,
endometrium, pancreas, kidney, and breast in postmenopausal
women). That is why AICR recommends that at least 2/3 of your
plate should be filled with vegetables, fruit, whole grains
The term “whole grain” means that all three parts of
the grain kernel (germ, bran and endosperm) are included. Refined
grains usually have the bran and germ removed, leaving only the starchy
endosperm. Brown rice is a whole grain, white rice is not. Other whole-grain
foods include wheat breads, rolls, pasta and cereals; whole grain
oat cereals such as oatmeal, popcorn, wild rice, tortilla and tortilla
chips, corn, kasha (roasted buckwheat) and tabouleh (bulghur wheat).
Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals
and hundreds of natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals, which
protect cells from the types of damage that may lead to cancer. In
addition research points to specific substances in whole grains that
have been linked to lower cancer risk, including antioxidants,
phenols, lignans, phytoestrogens
AICR's second expert report, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and
the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, found probable
evidence that foods containing dietary fiber, like whole grains,
can decrease one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer.
energy dense foods and eating a predominantly plant-based diet rich
in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans can help with weight
maintenance and, in turn, may decrease your risk of developing cancer.
AICR has funded research on the following topics relating to whole
grains and the cancer-fighting components they contain. Click
each topic to search for relevant AICR-funded research studies performed
the full list of AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.