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Healthful Eating

Food Choices and Cancer

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According to the Canadian Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in men and 3rd in women. It is estimated that about 1 in 14 Canadian men will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime and about 1 in 18 Canadian women will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. The rates of colorectal cancer in Canadians under the age of 50 is increasing. Read this article from the Canadian Cancer Society and this article from Colorectal Cancer Canada to learn more.


Because colorectal cancer is a digestive cancer, that means the foods we eat can significantly influence our risk of colorectal cancer. The World Health Organization has classified processed meats - such as bacon and hot dogs - as Group 1 carcinogens. 

Other cancer-causing substances in Group 1 category include tobacco, because of its link to lung cancer. The WHO also classifies red meat (which is any meat that comes from a mammal) as a Group 2A carcinogen. Please read the WHO’s Q&A and this article from the Canadian Cancer Society for further information.

2. Based off what you have learned so far, answer the following questions:

a. What surprised you about what you learned?

b. How often do you eat processed and red meats?

Please follow your teacher's instructions on how to submit your answers!

There are foods that can actually help reduce our risk of colorectal cancer. Read this Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine article and watch the “Processed Meat Linked to Colorectal Cancer” video below the article to learn more about those foods.

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As you learned in the article, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes are high in fibre and other protective nutrients. Fibre is not only important for preventing chronic diseases such as colorectal cancer, but it is also important for our daily digestive health. Fibre is found only in whole plant foods and is not found in animal products.


For your assessment, cite several steps you can take to minimize your risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, keep a food journal for one week. At the end of the week, write a reflection on how you made health-promoting food choices and what additional changes you can make to further improve your chance of optimal health.

Please follow your teacher's instructions on how to submit your work!

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Additional resources for further research:

World Cancer Research Fund: Meat, Fish and Dairy Products

TED Talk by Dr. William Li, Cancer Researcher: Can We Eat to Starve Cancer? 

Statista: Cancer in Canada - Statistics & Facts