TV host Coleen Nolan goes vegan to help prevent cancer and diabetes
Popular TV host Coleen Nolan, whose three sisters have all battled cancer, takes a proactive approach to maintaining her own health.
In April 2021, Nolan announced that after learning she had a high chance of developing cancer and diabetes due to her family history, she was adopting a vegan diet as a preventative measure. She has also publicly explained how she plans to have a preventative double mastectomy.
“The main reason for doing this is my sisters being diagnosed with cancer and my family members have diabetes. Here’s the thing – some of them I don’t like. I love my dairy and my chocolate, but I really got used to it and trained my taste buds,” she said. “I eat to live rather than live to eat.”
There are more benefits than just reducing her risk of disease: the 57-year-old TV host said she now feels better than she has “in years”.
“I have never weighed myself. The weight comes off. What worries me is that I feel so much better. Yeah, the best I’ve felt in years. I changed my eating habits. I lost weight. I have never felt better.
Now, she’s using her social media presence to encourage fans to cut back on dairy.
“I noticed in stores, everything changes. Vegetarian and veganism are growing. The alternatives are amazing…and you know what, I even have plant milk in my tea,” she said. “I started doing it once a week, seeing how much I liked it…so it’s up to you. There are plenty of choices and whatever you decide to do is fine.
How not to get cancer – Diet
How diet can help prevent cancer
Nolan’s new diet has a scientific basis, as studies have shown that overcooked red meat, processed foods like bacon, and fatty meats are linked to an increased risk of cancer.
However, suppressing these suspected triggers doesn’t always prevent cancer from developing — and indulging in them doesn’t necessarily mean a person will get cancer. There’s a little more to understanding cancer risk than that.
We are exposed to carcinogens or substances that can cause cancer throughout our daily lives. But many people won’t develop the disease, says Dr. Robert Wright, director of Mount Sinai’s Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health.
“We create carcinogens in our food all the time when we cook it, and very few of us get cancer because our bodies can handle it,” Dr. Wright explained. “But some people have susceptibilities to these environmental carcinogens, which may be genetic or caused by combinations of carcinogens.”
It’s important to understand that no one trigger will definitely cause cancer, Dr. Wright said, but it could be a combination of triggers in the environment.
“Cancer isn’t caused by one event, usually, it’s usually a series or combination of events,” he added. “So you may have eaten a lot of charred foods, you may also be a smoker, you may have inherited a genetic susceptibility to be a little more sensitive to these chemicals.”
So, are there any foods that can actually reduce cancer risk? No matter what you are told, as far as we know, there is not a single food that doctors can point to, with absolute certainty, and say lowers the risk of cancer. That’s not to say that healthy eating habits aren’t important. A balanced diet is a priority during and after cancer treatment.
When it comes to dietary advice that applies to everyone, Dr. Wright is pretty simple: eat more vegetables and stay active.
“What we haven’t understood for cancer is what is the combination of risk factors that ultimately lead to a particular person developing cancer,” Dr. Wright said in a previous interview with SurvivorNet. “The goal (going forward) is to identify people most susceptible to cancer and give them advice and foods they can eat and other habits like exercise that can lower their risk. Right now, we’re not really good at predicting that.
Although some cancers develop from inherited genes, most do not. So researchers are working on ways to understand how lifestyle factors like diet, exercise and chemical exposures put people at risk. With that in mind, Dr. Wright emphasized that eating well and staying active are still important – for all of us.
“At the end of the day, prevention is actually quite simple,” he said. “That’s what we always know. It’s about exercising and eating well. This means eating more vegetables and less meat, especially red meats.
Some dietary bases for avoiding higher cancer risk include:
- If you can afford it, buy organic fruits and vegetables
- When buying non-organic products, be sure to wash the products thoroughly
- Avoid overcooking food
- Try to eat less red meats
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