How To Lower Your Risk of Cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) updated their diet and physical activity guidelines for the prevention of cancer, on June 9, 2020.

At least 18% of all cancer cases are related to a combination of dietary risk factors and a lack of physical activity. The new ACS guidelines were developed to reflect the most current evidence related to diet and physical activity and cancer risk. Following these lifestyle recommendations is the most important thing you can do to lower your cancer risk, other than not smoking.

The new guidelines include four recommendations:

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight: Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight throughout life and avoiding weight gain in adult life. Learn more about body composition here.
  2. Get more physical activity: Adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. While this is the goal, the guidelines go on to explain that getting over 300 minutes per week is actually optimal. In addition to engaging in regular physical activity, it’s also recommended that time being sedentary, like sitting, lying down, and watching TV, should be limited. Learn about our favorite at home workouts here.
  3. Eat a healthy diet: Eat plenty of certain foods that help prevent cancer:
    • Vegetables, especially those that are dark green, red, and orange in colour
    • Fiber‐rich legumes (beans and peas)
    • Whole fruits with a variety of colors
    • Whole grains
    • Strive to avoid eating certain foods entirely that increase the risk of cancer:
      • Red and processed meats
      • Sugar‐sweetened beverages
      • Highly processed foods and refined grain products
      • Learn more about diet guidelines for people with cancer here.
  4. Avoid drinking alcohol: It is best to avoid alcohol altogether, but those who choose to drink alcohol should limit their consumption to one drink per day for women and two drink per day for men.

While these guidelines were developed to prevent cancer, they are also recommended for people with a history of cancer as they may also help prevent a recurrence and will lower the risk of developing a new cancer. However, keep in mind that these are only general guidelines and may not be appropriate for everyone, especially those currently undergoing cancer treatment.

If you are interested in learning more about how to eat to optimize your health during cancer treatment or what foods to eat for your specific type of cancer talk to one of the naturopathic doctors at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre.