Posted on May 18, 2014 · Posted in News

The World Cancer Research Fund has produced recommendations to reduce your risk of cancer.  These findings are the outcome of 7 years of research looking at over 3000 studies to produce the most comprehensive report on lifestyle and cancer called the Expert Report1.  These recommendations are also advised to prevent re-diagnosis of cancer.

  1.  Maintain or achieve a healthy weight

After smoking maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing that you can do.  Being overweight increases the risk of cancer. Even small weight losses have a beneficial effect. To encourage weight losses try to limit energy dense foods and snacks such as crisps, sweets, biscuits, cakes and pastries.

  1. Activity

Scientists predict that 12 % of bowel cancer cases in the UK could be prevented by being more active.  Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes activity a day for general health.   This includes walking, gentle swimming or dancing round the house!  Try to build the activity into your daily routine.  The more you enjoy it, the more you will do it!  If you are trying to lose weight work up to 60 minutes a day.

  1. Plant foods

Fruits and vegetables contain compounds that protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer. They are also low in calories and highly nutritious.  Whether the fruit and veg are fresh, frozen or canned makes little difference as long as they are part of your diet.  Don’t be fooled by claims of a “superfood”.  The real benefit is in variety and enjoyment.

Wholegrain cereals, breads, fruits and veg are high in fibre which helps prevent constipation.  These foods also speed up the rate food passes through the body reducing the risk of damage.  If everyone in the UK was able to eat more fibrous foods we could help to prevent about 12% of cancer cases in the UK.1

  1.  Limit intake of red meat

Beef, lamb, and pork are superb sources of protein, iron and zinc. It is recommended however we have no more than 8oz raw weight red meat 3 times a week.  Eating more than this increases bowel cancer risk.  Alternate red meat with poultry, fish, beans, pulses, eggs, quorn or soya.  It is also recommended that you avoid where possible processed meats that have been cured, smoked, salted etc.  These include bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages.

  1. Alcohol

Alcohol increases the risks of cancers of the mouth, throat, breast and bowel.  The risks of drinking alcohol are especially harmful in the presence of smoking.   7% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to alcohol.  Limit to daily allowances of 1 or 2 units per day or less for women and men respectively.  Aim to have 2 alcohol free days per week.

1 Unit equates to:

  • ½ pint of normal strength (3-5% abv) beer, lager or cider
  • 1 pub measure (25ml) of spirits such as vodka, whisky, gin or rum
  • 125ml glass of wine (12-13%abv)


  1.  Salt

Limit salty foods.  A high salt diet is thought to damage the lining of the stomach which increases cancer risk.  75% of the salt we eat comes from processed foods such as ready meals, cheese, crisps, pastries and biscuits.  It is also recommended that we avoid processed meats such as ham, bacon, and many processed cold meats.  Try not to add salt at the table. Taste buds will adjust over the period of a few weeks.  Making use of herbs and spices in cooking will help.


  1. Breastfeeding

For mums who are able, breastfeeding offers some protection for both mother and baby from long term illnesses.  It contains all nutrients required for a baby in the correct proportions.  For baby it prevents diarrhoea, and reduces the risk of obesity long term.  For mum breastfeeding lowers the risk of some cancers and it helps to shed excess weight after birth.

The risk of cancer can never be eliminated but the odds can be reduced through a few lifestyle changes.  Many who take on board such changes really enjoy the process and the outcomes achieved.  Relish in the feel good factor!

  1. (Accessed May 2014)

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