Limit Alcohol and Meat to Cut Cancer Risk

February 4 marks World Cancer Day, an opportunity to raise awareness about cancer and work for better access to screening and treatment worldwide while funding research to find a cure.  In becoming more aware of the risk factors for cancer, individuals are empowered to make lifestyle changes that can help prevent many types of cancer.  

A recent study of more than 51 million people by the World Cancer Research Fund found that avoiding processed meats like bacon and limiting alcohol could help reduce the risk of cancer by up to 40 per cent.  Each decade the WCRF updates its cancer prevention recommendations and new guidelines list 10 things you can do to significantly lower your risk for many cancers. 

Lifestyle Choices to Lower Cancer Risk

Maintain a healthy weight.  Obesity is linked with 12 cancers including liver, ovary, prostate, stomach, mouth and throat, breast, gallbladder, kidney, oesophagus, pancreas and womb. Eat little if any processed meat, limit sugar sweetened drinks and adopt a Mediterranean style diet. Limit any fast foods. 

Limit alcohol consumption.  For cancer prevention, it’s considered best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, limit yourself to one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. 

Stay physically active.  Avoid sedentary behavior, the World Health Organization recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.  Staying active daily can protect against cancers of the colon, breast and endometrium and help prevent excess weight gain. 

Don’t rely on supplements for cancer prevention.  High dose dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention; high dose beta carotene supplements may increase the risk for lung cancer.  Try to meet your nutritional needs with a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans.  

Avoid tobacco in any form.  Nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Smoking can also cause cancer in other parts of the body.  Within 5 years of quitting smoking, the risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is cut in half. 

Learn more about reducing your risk for cancer by following this link to the WCRF website.

With more countries adopting a western lifestyle, including consuming more fast foods, the number of new cases of cancer is expected to rise by 58 percent worldwide by 2035.  By taking steps to adopt healthy lifestyle choices, the burden of cancer can be significantly reduced.  The same healthy behaviors can also lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease as well as mental health problems including depression.