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Cancer and Risk Reduction - Part 1

As the new year starts, many people pick improved health as a goal or resolution, whether that is weight loss, getting to the gym, or stopping smoking. Since January hosts Cervical Health Awareness Month, this post - Part 1 – will focus on food and lifestyle for cancer risk reduction.

Risk Reduction

There are no guarantees whether someone gets disease, cancer or otherwise. Still, we can control some of our risk factors, and the American Cancer Society recommends several ways. Notice how many of these overlap with recommendations for general health.

  • Get to your healthy weight and body composition. Everyone has a different healthy weight. Yours will likely be different from your friends and family. Focus more on maintaining a healthy body composition, such as adding muscle mass and normal lab values (like cholesterol and blood glucose).
  • Eat an overall healthy diet, focusing on plant foods. Research suggests people whose diets contain more plant foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts) have lower risks of developing cancer. Find ways to fit in these foods: whether to swap in a whole grain pasta for your spaghetti dinner (and swap out regular pasta), eat an apple and cheese stick as a snack instead of your afternoon bag of mini cookies, or use Ranch dip with carrot sticks (if you do not like the taste of veggies solo).

  • Limit alcohol. If you already drink alcohol, take this time to consider how much you drink. Reducing the amount you drink may help reduce your risk of cancer. If you do not normally drink alcohol, there is no benefit to starting.

  • Be active. Even if you do not lose weight, exercising has benefits for your present and future physical health, as well as your mental health. Just like weight, everyone enjoys different types of activities. Find something you like, since you will stick to it better.


Lemon & Dill Chicken (Serves 4)

Add in those very important plant foods as side dishes to this chicken. Consider pearl or quick-cooking barley cooked in chicken broth with broccoli.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1-1 1/4 lbs total)
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp flour
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, divided (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp lemon juice

    1. Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
    2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth, flour, 1 tablespoon dill and lemon juice in a measuring cup and add to pan. Cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
    3. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan; reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill.
      Nutritional analysis per serving: 173 calories, 6g fat, 236mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 24g protein

      Recipe sourced from: National Cancer Institute. Wellness Challenge. Recipes.

      Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.