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More young people are being diagnosed with cancer. 3 lifestyle changes could reduce your risk, according to a cancer dietitian.

Serafina Kenny   

More young people are being diagnosed with cancer. 3 lifestyle changes could reduce your risk, according to a cancer dietitian.
  • Rates of cancer in younger adults are rising.
  • A dietitian specializing in cancer treatment shared tips to reduce the risk of cancer.

A dietitian specializing in cancer prevention told Business Insider that simple lifestyle changes can be powerful when it comes to reducing the risk of developing cancer.

The rates of younger adults being diagnosed with cancer have been rising since the '90s, according to the American Cancer Society, with colorectal, breast, and stomach cancers a particular concern. One in three people will develop some form of the disease in their lifetime, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But certain lifestyle choices can help to prevent cancer, Tejal Parekh, a registered and licensed dietitian who specializes in helping mesothelioma patients reduce cancer symptoms through diet at, told Business Insider.

Eat a plant-based diet

Individual herbs and foods — such as apples, cherries, walnuts, lentils, blueberries, green tea, tomatoes, soy, and grapefruit — are thought to help prevent cancer because they contain certain phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber, Parekh said.

Phytochemicals and antioxidants are thought to play a role in preventing cancer from developing by repairing DNA damage, while fiber helps with maintaining a healthy weight.

"But experts agree it is overall diet and teamwork from a combination of plant foods that seems to offer the strongest cancer protection," she said.

Parekh recommends filling at least two-thirds of your plate with plants at each meal. That includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains (such as barley and quinoa), herbs and spices, beans, and legumes.

Adding different herbs and spices is an easy way to increase the number of plants on your plate, as can trying out recipes from vegetarian cookbooks, Parekh said. Or try adding dark, leafy greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce to salads in addition to the usual iceberg lettuce.

Limit processed foods, red meat, alcohol, and salt

Parekh recommended eating as few ultra-processed foods — such as sodas and sweetened breakfast cereals — as possible. UPFs, which tend to be made from chemically modified ingredients using industrial methods, have been linked with many other health issues, such as cancer, as well as early death, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. One 2023 study suggested that the more UPFs someone eats, the higher their chances of dying of cancer.

Parekh it's also best to avoid red meat, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies as "probably carcinogenic," meaning that based on current research, it could be linked to an increased risk of developing the disease.

Cutting down on salt is also wise, Parekh said. Research suggests that diets high in salt are linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer.

If you have to drink, women and men should limit that to one or two servings per day, respectively, she said. This is the amount that the CDC considers moderate, where one drink is equal to five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or one shot.

The World Health Organization states that no level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health.

Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight

Being physically active for at least 30 minutes daily can help prevent cancer, Parekh said. Exercising has a huge range of health benefits, and according to the National Cancer Institute, it improves the functioning of the immune system and reduces inflammation.

Exercise also helps with maintaining a healthy weight — according to the NCI, people with higher levels of body fat are more likely to develop several cancers, although researchers aren't sure why.

If 30 minutes a day sounds like a lot, one study found that even doing 4.5 minutes a day of vigorous activity during your day-to-day activities could help reduce the chances of developing certain cancers by 32%.

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