New food guidelines reveal cancer risk


It used to be much simpler to know what to eat. Remember the Basic Seven food groups we ate as children? That became the Basic Four. Then, for years, we followed the Food Pyramid, which was followed by MyPyramid. More recently we have MyPlate telling us what to eat.

Then there were all the changes to specific foods. Coffee was good, and then it was bad. Chocolate was bad, and then it was good. Add aging and physical changes and doctors’ orders, and our diets have likely changed even more. We haven’t known why, really, we should eat or avoid certain foods. Now we do know.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has created a graphic that shows exactly how harmful or helpful certain foods and drinks are – and how likely they are to increase or reduce risk of cancer. Here are some of the specific cancer risks from the graphic:

  • Two glasses of milk per day causes a 60 percent increase in the risk of prostate cancer. Dairy protein products do, too, but at a rate of 32 percent increased risk.
  • Two or three glasses of alcohol – 21 percent increase. Processed meat – 21 percent. Red meat – 28 percent.
  • A “Western diet” (burger, fries and a drink) – a whopping 200 percent.

On the other side of the scale, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage) lower the risk 18 percent, fruits 11 percent and carotenoid vegetables (think: orange color) 19 percent. A healthy lifestyle in general gets us a 30 percent decrease in cancer risk.

Before you make any big changes to your diet, run this information by your doctor and ask for advice. Given how fast the guidelines change, there might be updated news.

Matilda Charles regrets she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Send email to

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.


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