Cancer Prevention


Sadly, most of us have experienced cancer sometime in our lives, either personally or through a loved one. The good news is that we can all reduce our risk of cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices. So what do the experts recommend when it comes to cancer prevention? Read on to find out the consensus from the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research.


    Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and pulses 

  • Make vegetables, fruit, and pulses (legumes), such as beans and lentils, a major part of your usual daily diet 

  • Eat at least 5 servings (2½ cups) of fruits and vegetables every day

  • Include a variety of vegetables and fruits at every meal and snack

  • Limit French fries and other fried vegetable products

  • Choose 100% juice if you choose vegetable or fruit juices

Choose wholegrains instead of processed (refined) grains

  • Choose whole grain bread, rice, pasta, and cereals

  • Limit consumption of refined carbohydrates, including pastries, sweetened cereals, and other high-sugar foods


Limit consumption of ‘fast foods’ and other processed foods high in fat, starch or sugar

  • Limiting these foods can help control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight 

  • Substitute vegetables, fruits, and other low-calorie foods for calorie-dense foods such as French fries, chips, and pizza

    Limit consumption of red and processed meat 

  • Eat little, if any, processed meat such as bacon, sausage, lunch meats, hot dogs, and other cured and smoked meats

  • Eat no more than moderate amounts/3 ounces of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb per day

  • Choose fish, poultry, or beans as an alternative to beef, pork and lamb

  • When you eat meat, select lean cuts and eat smaller portions

  • Prepare meat by baking, broiling, or poaching, rather than frying or charbroiling

  • Do not eat charred food: if char forms on food, remove it before eating

    Choose healthy fats

  • Limit consumption of foods high in animal and/or saturated fat, such as beef, lamb, pork, cream, butter, cheese, sour cream and other full fat or 2% dairy products

  • Choose foods that contain healthy fats, such as fatty fish, nuts, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and canola oil

    Watch your portion sizes

  • Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • Become familiar with standard serving sizes and read food labels

Limit consumption of sugar sweetened drinks 

  • Drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks 

Limit alcohol consumption 

  • For cancer prevention, it is best not to drink alcohol 

  • If you do choose to drink alcohol, limit your consumption:

    • Men: 2 drinks per day

    • Women: 1 drink per day

*1 drink = 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, 1.5 oz distilled spirits


  • Balance calorie intake with physical activity

  • Keep your weight within a healthy range

  • Avoid excess weight gain throughout life


  • Be physically active as part of everyday life – walk more and sit less 

  • Limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, watching TV, and other screen-based entertainment

  • Adults*: Engage in at least 150 minutes moderate or 75 minutes vigorous physical activity above usual activities every week, preferably spread throughout the week

  • Children and Adolescents*: engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, with vigorous activities on at least 3 days a week

*Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program


  • Do not use supplements for cancer prevention

  • Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone 


  • Do not smoke and avoid other exposure to tobacco


  • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun


  • Breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby 

While it is not possible to completely eliminate your risk of developing cancer, it is possible to reduce it significantly by following these healthy lifestyle guidelines. For more information, you can see the full American Cancer Society Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Prevention (available at and the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer Expert Report 2018 (available at And if you need help implementing some of these lifestyle changes, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can provide you with strategies to make it easier.