Your diet plays a big role in your health. The foods we eat can either nourish and strengthen us, or, they can make it easier for illness and disease to take root. When it comes to cancer, researchers have spent decades trying to understand whether dietary choices can increase or decrease the risk for cancer. Many of their results are inconclusive, and the question is still out: does your diet affect your chances of getting cancer? Keep reading to find out.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, dietary fat was considered bad, and people assumed that dietary fat led to cancer. However, after an 8-year study, in which women reduced dietary fat to 20% and increased fruits, veggies and grains, there was no reduction in breast cancer (or heart disease, for that matter).

Researchers than began to ask if cancer wasn’t caused by too much of a given nutrient (fat), and instead caused by too little of other nutrients, like fiber and vitamins. Another large study was conducted to see if an increase in fiber protects against colorectal cancer. However, there was “no statistically significant protective effect” observed.

And when it came to increasing vitamin B levels via supplementation, research found that high dose folic acid actually increased cancer by 21%, rather than reducing it.

The same was true of increasing Vitamin E levels. Instead of reducing cancer, it increased cancer rates and death.

What research has found to be true is that cancer is associated with obesity. And the CDC published a report showing that there are at least 13 cancers associated with being overweight or obese, and 55% of these cancers are diagnosed in women.

Therefore, perhaps the takeaway message is that decreasing dietary fat, while increasing fiber, fruits, vegetables and vitamin supplements may not reduce cancer rates. However, unhealthy weight gain and obesity does increase the risk of at least 13 cancers.

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