Preventing Cancer with the right nutrition

Although 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women worldwide develop some type of cancer during their lifetime, those diagnosed are living longer than ever, thanks to screening and early detection, vaccinations, and improvements in treatment. However, even for cancers with effective treatment options, prevention has the greatest potential to reduce the burden of cancer in the general population

Because each person is exposed to unique environmental and lifestyle factors, cancer risk can vary. Although some factors cannot be controlled (such as inherited genetic mutations), there is a range of modifiable environmental and lifestyle factors that can help reduce the risk of developing cancer.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a 30-40% cancer burden can be attributed to lifestyle risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, a diet low in fruit and vegetables, overweight and obesity, and physical inactivity.

In a 2018 report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), not-for-profit organizations that lead a network of cancer prevention charities with a global reach, 10 cancer prevention recommendations on diet and nutrition were developed.

These recommendations were based on the continuous update project of evidence in cancer research, which summarizes current evidence with relevant papers from randomized controlled trials and cohort studies. Taken together, they promote a lifestyle consisting of a healthy dietary pattern, physical activity, and weight management. This may not only help reduce the risk of cancer but may also contribute to the prevention of obesity and other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.