Just last month, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) released their Third Expert Report Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective. This new report builds on the information from the two previous reports in 1997 and 2007, and brings together the very latest research, findings and cancer prevention recommendations from an Expert Panel. Here are the 10 recommendations which promote an overall healthy lifestyle and holistic way of life, including healthy patterns of diet and physical activity.
1. Be a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight (as measured by Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference) throughout life is one of the most important ways to protect against cancer. Excess body weight is associated with over a dozen types of cancer.
2. Be physically active. There is strong evidence that physical activity protects against cancers of the colon, breast and endometrium. Be physically active as part of everyday life. The Expert Panel recommends walking more and sitting less.
3. Eat wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans. Make these foods a usual part of your daily diet. Aim for at least 30 grams of fibre every day from food. Eat a diet high in all types of plant foods including at least five servings of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and fruit every day.
4. Limit consumption of ‘fast foods’ and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars (such as pre-prepared dishes, snacks, bakery foods, desserts and candy). Limiting these foods helps control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.
5. Limit consumption of red meat and processed meat. There is strong evidence that consumption of red meat and processed meat are both causes of colorectal cancer. The Expert Panel notes that this recommendation does not mean that you have to completely avoid eating meat. However, if you do eat red meat, limit consumption to no more than about three portions per week (a maximum of about 350 to 500 grams or 12-18 ounces of cooked red meat, or about 700-750 grams of uncooked red meat). Eat very little, if any, processed meat.
6. Limit consumption of sugar sweetened drinks. For hydration, drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks such as tea or coffee without added sugar. When it comes to fruit juice, the Expert Panel advises to not drink fruit juice in large amounts.
7. Limit alcohol consumption. For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink alcohol, don’t exceed the national guidelines.
8. Rely on diet rather than supplements. For most people, consuming the right foods and drinks is more likely to prevent cancer than taking supplements.
9. Breastfeed your baby. For mothers, breastfeed your baby if you can. Breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby – it helps protect the mother from breast cancer, and it protects children against excess weight gain, overweight and obesity.
10. Cancer survivors. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or are going through treatment, get nutritional care and guidance on physical activity from trained professionals. If you can, follow the Cancer Prevention Recommendations as far as possible unless otherwise advised by your health care professional.