On any given day, you can find news stories touting the next big cancer-fighting food. But despite catchy headlines that promise miracles and cures, epidemiologist Maki Inoue-Choi from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in Minneapolis, suggests that efforts to reduce cancer risk shouldn’t center on one nutritional line of defense.

“Being healthy doesn’t mean eating one healthy nutrient or dietary supplement,” says Inoue-Choi, who, instead, recommends a variety of vegetables and fruit. “My concern is people hear news about a nutrient being good for reducing cancer risk, and they incorporate that [single item] and feel safe just by doing that one thing.”

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

  • Put fresh berries and bananas over your cereal in the morning.
  • Pack a piece of fruit, such as an apple, for lunch.
  • Buy in-season or frozen vegetables—to always have on hand.
  • Add dried fruit, such as cranberries, to a bed of lettuce

Source: www.ChooseMyPlate.gov​

Inoue-Choi and her colleagues published a commentary online in Nutrition and Cancer on Feb. 26, which scrutinized nutritional claims in a segment on the Dr. Oz Show. The Sept. 13, 2011, segment, titled Anti-Cancer Diet, suggested that a diet high in endive, red onion and sea bass could decrease a woman's risk of ovarian cancer by up to 75 percent. The science is not yet understood enough for such fast and easy recommendations, according to Inoue-Choi.

Studies have shown that certain lifestyle factors can decrease risk. One study, published online on June 18 in Cancer Epidemiology,Biomarkers & Prevention, found that postmenopausal women who were found to have followed at least five of eight broad recommendations for cancer prevention, published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research in 2007, had a 60 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with those who didn’t follow any of the recommendations. The study, which analyzed the habits of some 31,000 women 50 and older living in Washington state, suggested a decrease in breast cancer risk is associated with eating at least one serving of grains and five servings of non-starchy vegeta​bles or fruits daily, in addition to maintaining a healthy weight and drinking no more than one alcoholic beverage a day.

​​California Citrus and Greens Salad with Garlic Dressing

This tasty salad is packed with fruits and veggies.

Serves 4

4 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled
½ tsp. olive oil
⅓ cup orange juice
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 quart boiling water
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 bag (8 oz.) pre-washed baby salad greens
1 navel orange, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • In blender, combine first five dressing ingredients. Puree until smooth. Add thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Blanch broccoli in water for 1 minute. Drain well and let cool.
  • In serving bowl, toss broccoli with remaining ingredients. Add dressing and toss again.
  • Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research, www.aicr.org.

“People are looking for an easy thing, but staying healthy—working out three times a week and watching what you eat—that takes a lo​t of effort,” says Inoue-Choi. To get started, take advantage of the summer season with this salad recipe, which incorporates a potpourri of fresh veggies and fruit.