2.8.4. Cancer Prevention

Cancer Prevention Overview

Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. In addition to the physical problems and emotional distress caused by cancer, the high costs of care are also a burden to patients, their families, and to the public. Preventative measures can lower the number of new cases and cancer deaths, and reduce the burden of cancer on society.

Scientists are studying ways to prevent cancer, including the following:

  • avoiding or controlling factors known to cause cancer
  • improving diet and adopting a healthier lifestyle
  • finding precancerous conditions early
  • incorporating chemoprevention (the use of medicines that treat precancerous conditions or prevent cancer from starting)

Antioxidants and Phytochemicals

It is not simply vitamins and minerals alone that help fight against disease but their form within food and their combination with other substances within food. It is therefore best to choose whole foods to get vitamin and minerals than take supplements.[1]

Antioxidants are certain vitamins and minerals found mainly in vegetables and fruits. Examples of these include the following:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • selenium

Phytochemicals are found in fruits, vegetables and grains. Some phytochemicals act as antioxidants. Examples of these include the following:

  • carotenoids
  • flavonoids
  • indoles
  • isoflavones

How do they protect against cancer?

Antioxidants protect our body against free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells which may lead to cancer. Antioxidants are believed to protect by removing free radicals before they cause damage. Phytochemical’s may help reduce the risk of cancer, however there is still lots to be learnt about them. The best way to benefit from antioxidants and phytochemical’s is to eat a well balanced diet containing a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.


  1. What are antioxidants and phytochemicals? The Canadian Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/reduce-cancer-risk/make-healthy-choices/eat-well/antioxidants-and-phytochemicals/?region=on. Updated in 2020. Accessed February 2, 2020


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Fundamentals of Health and Physical Activity by Kerri Z. Delaney and Leslie Barker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.