Doing more exercise and cutting out fast and processed food could reduce your risk of cancer, says a new report from the World Cancer research Fund (WCRF), the leading authority on the links between diet, weight, physical activity and cancer prevention and survival.
In the UK in 2015, 359,734 cases of cancer were diagnosed. As more countries adopt ‘Western’ lifestyles, with increased consumption of fast and processed foods and sugary drinks leading to people becoming overweight or obese, the number of new cases of cancer is expected to rise by 58%, to 24 million globally, by 2035.
What’s more, the quality of diet and levels of activity of most people living in wealthy societies do not encourage healthy ageing; as people live longer and the ageing population increases, an even greater impact on cancer rates is anticipated.
The new report – Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective suggests that, if followed collectively and across your lifetime, these recommendations provide a proven blueprint for beating cancer.
Dr Kate Allen, WCRF’s Executive Director of Science & Public Affairs, said: “Our research shows it’s unlikely that specific foods or nutrients are important single factors in causing or protecting against cancer. Rather, different patterns of diet and physical activity throughout life combine to make you more or less susceptible to cancer. Our Cancer Prevention Recommendations work together as a blueprint to beat cancer that people can trust, because they are based on evidence that has now proved consistent for decades.”
In addition to the recommendations (right) and to help people understand and gain more awareness of their own lifestyle patterns, diet and physical activity, WCRF have developed a new Cancer Health Check tool. The tool is online and takes participants through a series of simple questions about what you eat and how often, level and frequency of physical activity, alcohol consumption and exposure to sun. It then gives a clear summary of how you’re doing and advice on how you could improve.
The tool is a positive, easy way to be proactive in preventing cancer. It’s also really useful for helping you to reflect honestly on your health and lifestyle and get you thinking about small changes you could make to improve your overall health. To use the tool, visit: www.wcrf-uk.org/uk/cancer-health-check
After a cancer diagnosis follow the WCRF recommendations, if you can.
Not smoking and avoiding other exposure to tobacco and excess sun are also important in reducing cancer risk.
According to WCRF, following these recommendations is likely to reduce intakes of salt, saturated and trans fats, which together will help prevent other non-communicable diseases.
You should always see your health professional to check what is right for you.
WCRF’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations are also available online at: www.wcrf-uk.org/10ways
WCRF Cancer Prevention Recommendations:
- Be a healthy weight. Keep your weight within the healthy range and avoid weight gain in adult life.
- Be physically active. Be physically active as part of everyday life – walk more and sit less.
- Eat a diet rich in wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans. Make wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, and pulses (legumes) such as beans and lentils a major part of your usual daily diet.
- Limit consumption of ‘fast foods’ and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars. Limiting these foods helps control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit consumption of red and processed meat. Eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb. Eat little, if any, processed meat.
- Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks.
- Limit alcohol consumption. For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol.
- Do not use supplements for cancer prevention. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.