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March 13, 2007 > Diet and Lifestyle Can Make a Difference

Diet and Lifestyle Can Make a Difference

Choose a Healthy Lifestyle to Reduce Risk of Colorectal Cancer

A significant component of cancer prevention has to do with a healthy diet and lifestyle choices, according to Washington Hospital staff clinical registered dietitian, Lorie Roffelsen, R.D.
On Monday, March 19, Roffelsen will join Washington Hospital gastroenterologist Anmol Mahal, M.D. in presenting a free Health & Wellness seminar about colorectal cancer.
Roffelsen's portion of the talk, entitled "Cancer Risk: How Diet and Lifestyle May Play a Role," will address in detail how the foods we eat - or don't eat - as well as our daily habits, such as smoking or drinking, affect our risk for developing certain types of cancers like colorectal cancer.
"I give a general overview of diet and lifestyle habits and choices that can reduce your chances of developing cancer, as well as a look at specific studies that address colorectal cancer," Roffelsen says.
Roffelsen's talk will address environmental influences that may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including:
* Food choice
* Being overweight
* Sedentary lifestyle
* Smoking
* Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess
"Our genetics is something we can't control, but these other environmental influences are things we can control," she notes. "If your genetics predispose you to cancer and you have an unhealthy lifestyle, your risk of developing certain types of cancer may increase."
While Roffelsen says there is no single food that is responsible for increasing or decreasing a person's chances of developing colorectal cancer, certain dietary choices over a long period of time can play a significant role in prevention.
She cites "The New American Plate," featured on the American Cancer Institute for Research's Web site, which illustrates the proportion of different types of foods Americans should aim for when planning a meal. A diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains and reduces that amount of red meat is ideal, Roffelsen notes.
"What they say in some studies is if you eat a typical Western diet, high in red meat, sweets and highly processed grains, that this type of diet can increase the risk for colon cancer by 50 percent," she says.
There are a number of healthy diet and lifestyle habits that Roffelsen will focus on during her talk, including some less well-known advice for reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, such as preparing and storing foods safely.
Roffelsen also will discuss the benefits of receiving nutrients and fiber from a food source, as opposed to a supplement.
"I'm a big advocate of getting these nutrients from whole foods," she says. "Researchers are not sure if you isolate a particular nutrient from its food source, if it is really going to provide the same benefits as if you got it from the whole food."
Even though there is no dietary magic bullet for preventing cancer, Roffelsen says the community can't go wrong by incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains and cutting back on items that are high in saturated fats.
"You don't have to make drastic changes to your diet," she stresses. "If you look at cutting back on certain items and start to change the look of your dinner plate, it will benefit your health over the long run."
Of any lifestyle change to make, Roffelsen says the most important one before looking at dietary changes is to quit smoking, because smoking has the potential to initiate or promote stages of cancer.
Join Roffelsen and Dr. Mahal for their seminar Monday, March 19, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Rooms A, B & C located on the first floor of 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont, across the street from the main hospital.
To register for the class, call Health Connection toll free at (800) 963-7070.
See the article Prevention Takes Precedence in this section for more information about colorectal cancer.

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