Cancer Prevention Through Nutrition

Marion Irvin, RD, LD, CNSC, is a registered dietitian at the Inova Schar Cancer Institute and Life With Cancer. She is board-certified in nutrition support.

Approximately 40 percent of all cancer cases can be attributed to modifiable risk factors. These are risk factors based on habits that are within our control.

One large decision we make every day (and multiple times a day!) is what we eat. While there is no one food or nutrient that will prevent cancer, scientific evidence continues to demonstrate the many benefits of increasing consumption of plant-based foods due to their vitamins, minerals and overall nutrient profile.

This does not mean you need to become vegetarian or vegan. It also does not mean you need to change the way you eat overnight.

We recommend making one change at time for the most sustainable diet modification.

Some examples of these changes include:

  • Eat breakfast. Try oatmeal with fruit and a nut butter for a full meal consisting of whole grains, fruits and protein.
  • Decrease your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and focus on drinking water. I recommend getting a large water bottle to carry with you throughout your day.
  • Try eating at least two different vegetables at mealtimes. The more color, the better. Tip: Frozen vegetables that are not in a sauce or with seasonings have the same nutritional value as those found in the produce aisle.

Rather than measuring out specific portion sizes, use your plate as the guide. Try out this checklist when you plan your next meal.

 SizeExamplesCheck Box
Protein¼ plateChicken, fish, turkey, tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, edamame 
Whole grains¼ plateWhole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, bulger, barley 
Vegetables½ plateAny 

Make an appointment with the registered dietitian at the Inova Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center for individualized recommendations and support.

1 Comment

  1. Judita on November 19, 2022 at 7:21 am

    Thank you so much it’s a big help for me to plan for my meal everyday. I had breast cancer and I’m on my treatment.

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