Few issues in science are as controversial as the strength of the relationship between diet and cancer. Over the past few years, many groups of scientists have formulated guidelines for a diet that they believe is consistent with good nutritional practice and, at the same time, likely to reduce the risk of cancer. Most of these guidelines are still the subject of strong debate. When expert say that fiber, certain vitamins, carotene, or selenium may reduce cancer risk, they also say, by implication, that they may not. The fact is that, as yet, there is no clear evidence that any diet will protect people against cancer. Cancers are populations of cells in the body that have acquired the ability to multiply and spread without the normal restraints. In this review, we will examine the diet-cancer connection. We will see that predisposing factors to cancer, such as genetic predisposition, are unrelated to diet per se, but that, if the predisposing factors are there, in some instances diet-associated environmental factors may determine whether or not the predisposition becomes an actual clinical cancer. It should be noted that there are both cancer-promoting and cancer-suppressing genes, and lack of the latter promotes cancer. We will also look at the role that nutrition plays in cancer-patient care and we will offer some dietary guidelines based on recent studies.
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