FOOD & CANCER PREVENTION : Limit Alcohol2019-09-30T20:17:33-04:00


There is strong evidence to suggest that excess alcohol consumption increases your risk of developing several types of cancer, including colorectal, mouth, liver, stomach and breast cancers. In addition to not drinking every day, women should limit consumption to 1 drink per day, and men should not to exceed 2 drinks per day. As a reference, a drink is defined as 12 oz. of beer, 1.5 oz. of spirits and 5 oz. of wine.

What about red wine?

Red wine is a complex beverage containing thousands of phytochemical compounds, of which one, resveratrol, is among the few molecules of nutritional origin able to simultaneously affect several essential stages of cancer growth, in particular that of the colon. To enjoy red wine’s benefits, however, the key is still moderation because, in large amounts, alcohol is extremely harmful to cells and considerably increases the risk of cancer.

Smart hydration

Smart hydration not only means avoiding excess alcohol, but also making sure to drink enough water throughout the day. It is important not to wait to feel thirsty because that is usually a sign that you are already dehydrated. The recommendation is usually around 1.5 to 2 L per day and potentially higher if you are physically active, the weather is hot or you are breastfeeding, for example.

It is also key to limit consumption of sweet drinks (basically liquid candy), which are filled with high quantities of sugar and calories. For example, a can of soda contains as many as 8 teaspoons of sugar, and this amount clearly gets much higher with the supersized options available.

Choosing to drink water instead of juice and sodas can certainly have a positive impact on maintaining a healthy weight, which is an important factor in reducing the risk of cancer. In fact, a recent report from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), clearly showed that as many as 40% of cancers in the US in 2014 were directly linked to obesity.

Green Tea

Regular consumption of green tea also has a positive effect on reducing the risk of cancer. A single cup of green tea can contain up to 200 mg of polyphenols (flavonols, phenolic acids, catechins), notably epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the molecule primarily responsible for green tea’s health benefits. More than 11,000 scientific studies have shown that EGCG is a versatile molecule capable of interfering in the multitude of processes used by cancer cells to grow and invade the organs. The importance of these numerous biological activities is well illustrated by the marked decrease in the risk of several forms of cancer, particularly colon cancer, associated with the regular consumption of green tea. Japanese green teas, which are richer in catechins, are the best source of EGCG, especially when the leaves are infused for eight minutes to extract the maximum amount of molecules present.


According to the latest report from the World Cancer Research Fund, several research findings indicate that consuming milk may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Although the exact mechanism by which calcium may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer is unclear, researchers know that calcium binds to bile acids and fatty acids in the gastrointestinal tract to form insoluble complexes known as calcium soaps. This reduces the ability of the acids (or their metabolites) to damage cells  in the lining of the colon and stimulates cell proliferation to repair the damage.

  • The resveratrol in red wine has powerful anticancer action, but excess consumption of alcohol can have the opposite effect. Moderation is key!
  • Drinking green tea on a regular basis can reduce your risk of cancer. It contains large numbers of catechins, molecules that have notable anticancer properties.
  • Drink freshly brewed green tea in the afternoon with your healthy snack.
  • Add one part water to one part orange juice in the morning to make the juice less sweet.
  • Add lemon, ginger and mint leaves to your water for a fresh boost.
  • When you drink wine, also drink a glass of water.
  • Double the milk (or fortified soy beverage) in your coffee.
  • Blend together fruits and milk (or fortified soy beverage) for a refreshing smoothie.
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World Cancer Research Fund. Diet, nutrition, physical activity and colorectal cancer. 2018.
Richard Béliveau, Denis Gingras. Foods That Fight Cancer, Preventing Cancer Through Diet. Revised edition, 2016. Les Éditions du Trécarré, Groupe Librex inc. 278 pages
National Cancer Institute. Alcohol and Cancer Risk.2018.
Huncharek M et al. Colorectal cancer risk and dietary intake of calcium, vitamin D, and dairy products: a meta-analysis of 26,335 cases from 60 observational studies. Nutr Cancer 2009;61(1):47-69.