The American Cancer Society has updated its guideline on diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. Staying at a healthy weight, staying active throughout life, following a healthy eating pattern, and avoiding or limiting alcohol may greatly reduce a person's lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer. At least 18% of all cancer cases in the US are related to a combination of these factors. These lifestyle habits are the most important behaviors after not smoking that people can control and change to help lower their cancer risk.
The updated guideline reflects the latest evidence published since the last update in 2012. It appears in the American Cancer Society’s peer-reviewed journal, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Changes to the guideline include recommendations for getting more physical activity, eating less (or no) processed and red meat, and avoiding alcohol or drinking less. It says:
According to Laura Makaroff, DO, American Cancer Society senior vice president, Prevention and Early Detection, the guideline is based on current science that shows that how you eat, rather than specific foods or nutrients, is important in reducing the risk of cancer and boosting overall health.
“There is no one food or even food group that is adequate to achieve a significant reduction in cancer risk,” Makaroff said. People should eat whole foods, not individual nutrients, she said, because evidence continues to suggest that healthy dietary patterns are associated with reduced risk for cancer, especially colorectal and breast cancers.
Making healthy eating and exercise choices can be a challenge for many people. Social, economic, and cultural factors all play into the way people eat and get physical activity, and how easy or hard it is to make changes. Public, private, and community organizations should work together to increase access to affordable, healthy foods and provide safe, enjoyable and accessible opportunities for physical activity.
Any change you try to make for a healthier lifestyle is easier when you live, work, play, or go to school in a community that supports healthy behaviors. Look for ways to make your community a healthier place to live:
The updated guideline also includes answers to questions that commonly arise within the general public, including information on genetically modified crops, gluten-free diets, juicing/cleanses, and more.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention. Published June 9, 2020 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. First author Cheryl L. Rock, PhD, RD, University of California at San Diego.
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