Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ten Cancer Prevention Tips

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) expert report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer, was released in November 2007 (view the full report in: The Report is intended as a guide to future scientific research, cancer prevention programs and health policy around the world.

The following paragraphs summarize the 10 recommendations from the WCRF report.

Recommendation 1: Body fat
Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
Public health goals
Median adult body mass index (BMI) to be between 21 and 23, depending on the normal range for different populations
The proportion of the population that is overweight or obese to be no more than the current level, or preferably lower, in 10 years
Note: “Normal range” refers to appropriate ranges issued by national governments or the World Health Organization
Personal recommendations
Ensure that body weight through childhood and adolescent growth projects towards the lower end of the normal BMI range at age 21
Maintain body weight within the normal range from age 21
Avoid weight gain and increases in waist circumference throughout adulthood

Recommendation 2: Physical activity
Be physically active as part of everyday life.
Public health goals
The proportion of the population that is sedentary to be halved every 10 years
Average physical activity levels (PALs) to be above 1.6
Personal recommendations
Be moderately physically active, equivalent to brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes every day
As fitness improves, aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate, or for 30 minutes or more of vigorous, physical activity every day
Limit sedentary habits such as watching television

Recommendation 3: Foods and drinks that promote weight gain
Limit consumption of energy-dense foods; avoid sugary drinks.
Public health goals
Average energy density of diets to be lowered towards 125 kcal per 100 g
Population average consumption of sugary drinks to be halved every 10 years
Personal recommendations
Consume energy-dense foods sparingly
Avoid sugary drinks
Consume “fast foods” sparingly, if at all
Note: Energy-dense foods are here defined as those with an energy content of more than about 225–275 kcal per 100 g; Sugary drinks principally refers to drinks with added sugars. Fruit juices should also be limited.

Recommendation 4: Plant foods
Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
Public health goals
Average population consumption of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits to be at least 600 g daily
Relatively unprocessed cereals (grains) and/or pulses (legumes), and other foods that are a natural source of dietary fibre, to contribute to a population average of at least 25 g non-starch polysaccharide daily
Personal recommendations
Eat at least five portions/servings (at least 400 g) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits every day
Eat relatively unprocessed cereals (grains) and/or pulses (legumes) with every meal
Limit refined starchy foods
People who consume starchy roots or tubers as staples also to ensure intake of sufficient non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and pulses (legumes)

Recommendation 5: Animal foods
Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
Public health goal
Average population consumption of red meat to be no more than 300gm a week, very little if any of which to be processed.
Personal recommendation
People who eat red meat to consume less than 500gm a week, very little if any to be processed
Note: ‘Red meat refers to beef, pork, lamb, and goat from domesticated animals including that contained in processed foods; processed meat refers to meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives, including that contained in processed foods.

Recommendation 6: Alcoholic drinks
Limit alcoholic drinks.
Public health goal
Proportion of the population drinking more than the recommended limits to be reduced by one third every 10 years
Personal recommendation
If alcoholic drinks are consumed, limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women
Note: One drink contains about 10–15gm of ethanol

Recommendation 7: Preservation, processing, preparation
Limit consumption of salt. Avoid moldy cereals (grains) or pulses (legumes)
Public health goals
Population average consumption of salt from all sources to be less than 5gm (2gm of sodium) a day
Proportion of the population consuming more than 6gm of salt (2.4gm of sodium) a day to be halved every 10 years
Minimise exposure to aflatoxins from mouldy cereals (grains) or pulses (legumes)
Personal recommendations
Avoid salt-preserved, salted, or salty foods; preserve foods without using salt
Limit consumption of processed foods with added salt to ensure an intake of less than 6gm (2.4gm sodium) a day
Do not eat moldy cereals (grains) or pulses (legumes)
Note: Methods of preservation that do not or need not use salt include refrigeration, freezing, drying, bottling, canning, and fermentation.

Recommendation 8: Dietary supplements
Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
Public health goal
Maximise the proportion of the population achieving nutritional adequacy without dietary supplements
Personal recommendation
Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention
Note: It may not always be feasible to meet nutritional needs through diet alone. In some situations of illness or dietary inadequacy, supplements may be valuable.

Special Recommendation 1: Breastfeeding
Mothers to breastfeed; children to be breastfed.
Public health goal
The majority of mothers to breastfeed exclusively, for six months
Personal recommendation
Aim to breastfeed infants exclusively up to six months and continue with complementary feeding thereafter

Special Recommendation 2: Cancer survivors
Follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.
All cancer survivors to receive nutritional care from an appropriately trained professional
If able to do so, and unless otherwise advised, aim to follow the recommendations for diet, healthy weight, and physical activity
Note: Cancer survivors are people who are living with a diagnosis of cancer, including those who have recovered from the disease.

Excerpted from this article.