'I'm an Oncologist and This Is the Dinner I Swear By for Cancer Prevention' (2024)

You may already know about the connection between diet and heart health, but did you know that you can also lower your risk of getting cancer through what you eat? While we can’t control our health entirely, more than 4 in 10 cancers are attributed to modifiable risk factors (AKA things in our control), including what we put into our bodies.

Who better to ask how to eat with cancer prevention in mind than an oncologist who not only treats people with cancer but also stays on top of all the latest cancer research? With that in mind, we asked Dr. Lori A. Alfonse, DO, a surgical oncologist and the Deputy Physician in Chief of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, to share her go-to dinner as well as general tips on how to eat with cancer prevention in mind.

Related: This Lifestyle Tweak Can Be a Game-Changer In Lowering Your Risk of Cancer Death, According to an Oncologist

A Surgical Oncologist’s Go-To Dinner

Dr. Alfonse says that one dinner she has regularly is sauteed scallops or salmon, salad greens with homemade dressing (she makes it with vinegar, oil and Jane's Krazy Salt,which has 50% less sodium than regular table salt) and a small baked potato with sour cream.

“This meal follows the ‘kill it or grow it rule,’ which is a motto I recommend to my patients," Dr. Alfonse says. "[It means] if you can kill it [foods like beef, chicken, fish or pork] or grow it [like fruits and vegetables], you can eat it."

Related: 7 Things You Can Do Now To Prevent Cancer

Scallops and salmon are both high in omega-3 fatty acids. Scientific studies have found that a diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids may help lower the risk of cancer because it helps prevent chronic inflammation. Scallops and salmon also both have magnesium—another nutrient linked to cancer prevention.

As for salad greens, it’s no surprise that this food is part of Dr. Alfonse’s cancer-preventing meal. There is a strong correlation between a diet high in fiber and a lower risk of certain types of cancers. A diet high in vegetables, fruit and whole grains (all in the “grow it” part of Dr. Alfonse’s motto) can help lower the risk of cancer because these foods are full of phytochemicals, which slow cancer cell growth and prevent damaged cells from reproducing.

As for that baked potato, the spud may get a bad rap but potatoes are a healthy, nutrient-rich food, a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, potassium and iron.

Related: Want to Be a Cancer Super Survivor? Here Are 10 Things You Can Do Today To Help Beat the Disease

How To Eat With Cancer Prevention In Mind

The “kill it or grow it” rule allows for a long and varied list of foods to remain on the table (like whole grains, beans, legumes and meat) while nixing ultra-processed foods that are full of ingredients that are hard to pronounce, let alone know where they come from. According to scientific research, there is a direct correlation between a diet high in ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer.

Besides minimizing ultra-processed foods, Dr. Alfonse also recommends prioritizing protein as a way to eat with cancer prevention in mind. “I suggest people increase their protein levels and try not to eat carbohydrates without pairing it with a protein. For example, I know people love pasta and some people can’t imagine living without it. I suggest cutting the portion in half and adding chicken or seafood,” she says. “Additionally, I suggest healthier alternatives such as chickpea or red lentil varieties of pasta. If you want to snack on crackers or pretzels, add some cheese.”

Eating this way can help lower the risk of obesity, which is important because obesity is a risk factor for many types of cancer. People with obesity are at increased risk for 13 different types of cancer, which collectively make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

If you want to start changing your diet to eat with cancer prevention in mind, dinner is a great meal to start with because, for many people, it’s their most substantial meal of the day. Follow in Dr. Alfonse’s footsteps by eating dinners with a balance of protein, fiber and carbohydrates. It’s one step you can take every single day to lower your risk of cancer.

Next up, here's what you should never do if you want to lower your risk of breast cancer.


'I'm an Oncologist and This Is the Dinner I Swear By for Cancer Prevention' (2024)


What is the number 1 cancer fighting food? ›

"Cancer-fighting foods"

The list is usually topped with berries, broccoli, tomatoes, walnuts, grapes and other vegetables, fruits and nuts. "If you look at the typical foods that reduce cancer risk, it's pretty much all plant foods that contain phytochemicals," says Wohlford.

What stops cancer cells from growing? ›

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) block chemical messengers (enzymes) called tyrosine kinases. Tyrosine kinases help to send growth signals in cells, so blocking them stops the cell growing and dividing. Cancer growth blockers can block one type of tyrosine kinase or more than one type.

What type of food reduces the risk of cancer consuming at least three servings a day? ›

Eating fruit and vegetables has long been known to provide many health benefits. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which may help to decrease your risk of cancer in particular areas of the digestive system, such as the mouth and stomach.

What foods should cancer patients avoid? ›

Uncooked hot dogs, sliced cold cuts or uncooked cured salami, due to their increased risk of contamination with listeria. Smoked fish, including dips and spreads made with smoked fish. Shooting sprouts and leaves, including watercress, curry leaves and beansprouts like aduki, alfalfa, lentils and mung beans.

What starves cancer cells? ›

Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Tezcat Biosciences, the new study found that a carefully chosen protein called a monobody, linked to a drug called MMAE that prevents cells from multiplying, were together pulled inside the cancer cells to stop abnormal growth in both cell tests and in live ...

What triggers cancer cells to grow? ›

Gene mutations in cancer cells interfere with the normal instructions in a cell and can cause it to grow out of control or not die when it should. A cancer can continue to grow because cancer cells act differently than normal cells.

What fruits should cancer patients avoid? ›

You may also want to avoid certain fruits based on your symptoms. For example, citrus fruits may irritate mouth sores and worsen the feeling of dry mouth. Lastly, whole fruits like apples, apricots, and pears are hard for some people with cancer to eat due to mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, or nausea.

What can shrink cancer cells? ›

Cruciferous vegetables

One study shows that sulforaphane significantly inhibits cancer cell growth and stimulates cell death in colon cancer cells. Other research shows that sulforaphane, in combination with genistein — a compound in soybeans — can significantly inhibit breast cancer tumor development and size.

How do you starve cancer cells naturally? ›

Ketogenic diet

Ketones become the energy to cells in the body. Early (preclinical) studies showed that some cancer cells can't use ketones as energy. So, changing the diet to be high in fat and low in carbohydrate will lower glucose levels and starve cancer cells. Normal body cells adapt and can use ketones to survive.

What kills cancer cells naturally in the body? ›

Top 5 Effective Cancer-Fighting Foods
  • Cruciferous vegetables. Beet, radish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and mustard greens are some of the vegetables that belong to the Brassicaceae family of vegetables. ...
  • Green Leafy Vegetables. ...
  • Garlic. ...
  • Tomatoes. ...
  • Berries.

Is peanut butter good for cancer patients? ›

Resveratrol – this antioxidant has been shown to cut off blood supply to growing cancers and inhibit cancer cell growth. Found in both raw and roasted peanuts, as well as peanut butter, resveratrol has exhibited evidence for cancer protection, as well as promise in treating Alzheimer's and diabetes.

What is the 7 day rule in chemotherapy? ›

Chemotherapy cycles may be planned in such a way that there will be 5 days of chemo with 2 days of rest, all within 7 days (roughly). Maintaining drug levels: 7-day rule helps ensure that there is enough chemo in the body to fight cancer.

Are eggs bad for cancer patients? ›

Really any protein-rich foods you can tolerate are great options, but many cancer patients tend to tolerate soft protein foods best, especially if they are nauseous or have mouth sores. In this instance, eggs are a great choice.

What should I eat the night before chemo? ›

What do I eat before going to chemotherapy? Light, bland foods seem to work best. Some examples of choices are: Plain or Fruited yogurt.

What kind of cancer do blueberries prevent? ›

Study bolsters findings that superfood may be effective against breast cancer. Possessing a navy hue and a powerful punch, the blueberry is one of the most potent and popular disease fighters available.

What foods are best for cancer treatment? ›

“We also recommend eating some lean animal protein, such as chicken, fish and turkey as well as plant-based proteins like beans, lentils and tofu,” says Ebrus. “Protein helps you keep your muscle during cancer treatment, a time when you're at an increased risk for losing muscle.”

What can I do to stop cancer? ›

Once you've got those down, move on to the others.
  1. Maintain A Healthy Weight. ...
  2. Exercise Regularly. ...
  3. Don't Smoke Or Use Smokeless Tobacco. ...
  4. Eat a Healthy Diet. ...
  5. Limit Alcohol – Zero Is Best. ...
  6. Protect Yourself from the Sun And Avoid Tanning Beds. ...
  7. Protect Yourself From Sexually Transmitted Infections. ...
  8. Get Screening Tests.

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