You hear a lot from AICR about how to eat for cancer prevention and overall health, but what you drink – from a plain cup of coffee to a sugary soda - also has a profound effect on your cancer risk. Here’s what you can do to make sure what’s in your mug, cup, glass and thermos all boost a healthy, cancer-preventive lifestyle.
Swap your sugary beverages
Research from AICR shows that sugary sodas and other drinks link to weight gain, overweight and obesity, a disease linked to increasing risk of 11 cancers. Studies suggest that when you drink sugary beverages, they don’t satisfy your hunger, so you end up taking in more calories than you need which leads to weight gain.
One can of sugary soda has about 140 calories and that can add up quickly. Sodas might be among the most popular sugary drink, but you might not realize energy drinks, vitamin waters and many bottled teas and coffees are also loaded with sugar.
Healthy swap: When you’re looking to grab a refreshing, thirst-quenching drink at the sandwich shop or convenience store, go for the unsweetened iced tea or an icy cold can of flavored sparkling water.
Go easy on the alcohol, if you drink at all
The latest research shows that even one drink a day of alcohol raises the risk of developing breast cancer. Evidence is also clear that drinking alcohol raises your chances of getting several other cancers, including colorectal and liver. The alcohol found in drinks is a carcinogen that may lead to DNA damage and help potential carcinogens enter cells. AICR recommends to not drink alcohol, but if you do drink, limit to no more than 1 drink daily for women, 2 for men.
Healthy swap: Order a spritzer – or make one yourself: Pour 2 - 3 ounces (about 1/4 cup) wine and add sparkling water, or add fruit puree or colorful chunks of fruit to sparkling water for a pretty and festive drink.
Savor the flavor with coffee, a cancer-fighting choice
Strong evidence shows that drinking coffee lowers risk for two cancers, endometrial and liver. Coffee is packed with phytochemicals and other substances that may protect against cancer. In lab studies these substances regulate cell growth, stop carcinogens, reduce inflammation and act as antioxidants.
However, those super-sweetened, creamy coffee drinks like caramelized lattes and other specialty drinks contain loads of sugar and calories, boosting your risk for weight gain.
Healthy swap: If you enjoy flavored coffee drinks, add a little milk to an iced coffee and top with a sprinkling of cinnamon, cocoa powder or other spice.
Go for the fruit, not the juice
Whole fruit contains fiber, which studies suggest can help keep you full (as well as lower cancer risk). But, if your breakfast just isn’t breakfast without juice, enjoy up to one cup of 100 percent juice daily. And skip the fruit drinks and punches.
Healthy swap: At home add a splash of juice to icy sparkling water for a refreshing, fruity beverage.
Beverage Bottom line: Make your cancer-fighting beverages mostly water, coffee, tea or vegetable juices. Include moderate amounts of milk or calcium-fortified plant-based milks. Limit 100 percent fruit juices to no more than 1 cup per day and avoid fruit punches and drinks.