Health Advice



Update on cancer risk and food choices

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

"Saturday Night Live's" Weekend Update skit has rarely missed an opportunity to inform viewers about the facts and follies of the past week. The Continuous Update Project, conducted by the World Cancer Research Fund, is just as committed to reporting the facts and follies when it comes to knowing which foods are cancer risks and which are not.

They've determined that diet, weight and physical activity can affect your risk for many cancers: breast, prostate, colorectal, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophageal, stomach, bladder, kidney, liver, gallbladder, ovarian, endometrial, pancreatic and lung. They also say being overweight or having obesity is linked with an increased risk of 13 of those cancers.

The top three food culprits, according to CUP, are processed meats, red meats and alcoholic beverages. Some specifics: Processed meats labeled "no nitrates added" can still be made with "natural" sources of harmful nitrates. Skip all processed meat! Alcohol is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, as well as cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, intestinal system, stomach and liver. Sip lightly or not at all. And beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat up the risk of colon cancer, especially when fried, grilled or broiled.

But, says CUP, eliminating alcohol and animal foods from your diet won't do much to prevent cancer if the plant-based foods you choose are low in fiber or high in added sugars (ever-more data shows they increase the virulence of most cancers). So, check out my "What to Eat When Cookbook" for cancer-fighting recipes.



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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