Eating to avoid cancer risk… Easier said than done! Should we outlaw the milk, drink less alcohol? Are antioxidants essential? To try to answer these questions, Doctissimo interviewed Dr. Paule Martel, Coordinator of the network of National Food Cancer Research (mother of Pearl) ** whose teams explore this problem for several years.
Doctissimo: More than smoking and pollutants, the food would be the first environmental factor involved in cancer risk. Can we explain this phenomenon?
Dr. Martel: Cancer is a multifactorial disease, meaning that many agents come into play: tobacco including, but also genetic factors that determine the susceptibilities of each person. Environmental factors as a whole, such as pollutants, radiation and of course food also play an important role. It is true that long, it did not consider food, because we saw the mainly as a provider of energy, without considering continued exposure to nutrients that it contains. Today we know that our eating habits have a real effect, beneficial or negative.
In all cases, do not demonise food in particular. Everything is a question of balance and amount.
Doctissimo: Talking about many of the antioxidants and their virtues. Really are they allies against cancer?
Dr. Martel: There is not a single factor which will help protect against cancer. What is known is that fruits and vegetables bring a profit. But this is related to all the compounds they contain: the antioxidants of course, but also fibres, vitamins and minerals… The important thing is to have intakes of varied and nutritional quantities. It is not useful to try to regain those benefits by absorbing food supplements. With high doses, they can in some cases may be toxic. Unlike the fruit and vegetables and cereals, the pills do not contribute to the balance of the ration (limiting the excessive consumption of certain foods).
Doctissimo: You emphasize that there is not all good or all bad foods. However, milk is in recent years accused of increase the risk of cancer. Some go so far as to advise not to drink. Are these rumors based?
Dr. Martel: Milk, like other foods, subject of many studies. But at this stage, there is not enough data available to be able to conclude to an effect, one way or the other, milk on cancer risk. It is impossible to totally exclude that excessive drinking can present a risk (because of the reduction of other foods, which is the corollary). But to have reliable data, need numerous studies conducted over several years. For example, before you can conclude on the benefits of fruit and vegetables, it took more than 200 studies that were all broadly in the same direction. Gold for milk, there is currently little work, indeed often contradictory. In the meantime, do not ban dairy products. Because the role they play, especially in the prevention of osteoporosis with calcium, is essential. It is therefore important today to respect the recommendations and recommended intakes.