This month we focus our awareness on the prevention of cancer. The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that approximately one-third of cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented by eating healthy, being active, and staying lean. That’s an estimated 374,000 cases of cancer in the United States that would never happen.
These ten recommendations for cancer prevention are drawn from the WCRF/AICR Second Expert Report.
- Be as lean as possible without being underweight: Aim to be at the lower end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day: Aim to build more activity, like brisk walking, into your daily routine.
- Avoid sugary drinks: Choose healthy foods and drinks instead of those that are high in refined carbohydrates and often in added sugar and fat.
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes: Aim to fill at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.
- Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats.
- Limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day: Previous research has shown that modest amounts of alcohol may have a protective effect against coronary heart disease.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and processed foods with salt: Studies have shown that high salt intake can damage the lining of the stomach in ways that can lead to cancer.
- Don’t rely on supplements to protect against cancer: The best source of nourishment is food and drink, not dietary supplements.
- For new mothers, breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods: First, breastfeeding lowers the levels of some cancer-related hormones in the mother’s body. Second, at the end of breastfeeding, the body gets rid of any cells in the breast that may have DNA damage.
- For cancer survivors, after treatment, follow the recommendations for cancer prevention: Once treatment has been completed, if you are able to do so (and unless otherwise advised), aim to follow AICR’s cancer prevention recommendations for diet, physical activity and healthy weight maintenance.