Nearly 4 out of 10 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, and it remains the second-leading cause of death for Americans, but nearly half of all cancer cases can be prevented.
Research from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) shows that diet, exercise and weight play a critical role in cancer prevention.
“Making changes in what you eat, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight have strong and clear links to your risk for cancer,” said Alice Bender, MS, RDN and director of nutrition programs at AICR. “We know from decades of research and a thorough review of the science that there are simple things we can all do to reduce our risk.”
To live a cancer-preventive lifestyle, consider taking these 10 steps recommended by the scientific experts at AICR:
- Be a healthy weight. Higher body fat can be a cause of many cancers. Try to stay at a healthy weight and avoid weight gain as you get older.
- Be physically active. Incorporate moderate physical activity into your daily life through steps like walking more and sitting less.
- Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. Make these foods a major part of your diet.
- Limit consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars. Cut down on processed foods to help control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit consumption of red and processed meat. Eat no more than three portions of red meat per week, and little – if any – processed meat.
- Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Don’t drink sugar-sweetened drinks, which contribute to weight gain. Choose water instead, when possible.
- Limit alcohol consumption. For preventing cancer, it’s best not to drink alcohol.
- Do not use supplements for cancer prevention. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
- For mothers, breastfeed your baby, if you can. Breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby.
- After a cancer diagnosis, follow these recommendations, if you can. Cancer survivors are encouraged to continue following these guidelines.
Refraining from smoking, avoiding other exposure to tobacco and limiting sun exposure are also important in reducing cancer risk.
Because it can be hard to make lifestyle changes, AICR aims to help people adopt healthier behaviors through efforts like the Cancer Health Check, a tool that shows people how their lifestyle stacks up against known cancer risks and recommends changes that can improve health.
For recipes, tips and other resources, visit aicr.org.