Recommendations for the prevention of cancer – A report by The World Cancer Research Fund

From: World Cancer Research Fund

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  • The report is a review of the existing literature


  • The report is a result of a 5-year process that has included an examination of the literature by a panel of the worlds leading scientists. 


  • Recommendation 1 – Body weight through childhood and adolescents should remain towards the lower end of the BMI scale. ie. 21 to 23. Maintain body weight within the normal range from age 21.
  • Recommendation 2 – Be moderately physically active (equivalent of 30 minutes of brisk walking per day).
  • Recommendation 3 – Avoid sugary drinks and consume energy-dense and fat-foods sparingly. Note that energy-dense foods, such as nuts and seeds, have not been shown to contribute to weight gain when consumed as part of typical diets, and these and many vegetable oils are valuable sources of nutrients.
  • Recommendation 4 – Eat at least five portions/servings (at least 400g) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits every day.
  • Recommendation 5 - consume less than 500g of red meat per week.
  • Recommendation 6 – limit consumption of alcoholic drinks to no more two a day for men and one drink a day for women.
  • Recommendation 7 - Limit consumption of processed foods with added salt to ensure an intake of less than 6 g (2.4 g sodium) a day.
  • Recommendation 8 - Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention. Aim to meet your dietary needs through diet alone.
  • Special Recommendation 1 – Aim to breastfeed infants exclusively up to six months and continue with complementary feeding thereafter.


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Editors Notes

  • BMI (Body Mass Index) = weight in kg / height in meters squared.
  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of some cancers. Overweight and obesity also increase the risk of conditions including dyslipidaemia, hypertension and stroke, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Overweight in childhood and early life is liable to be followed by overweight and obesity in adulthood.
  • All forms of physical activity protect against some cancers, as well as against weight gain, overweight, and obesity; correspondingly, sedentary ways of life are a cause of these cancers and of weight gain, overweight, and obesity.
  • Food supplies that are mainly made up of processed foods, which often contain substantial amounts of fat or sugar, tend to be more energy- dense than food supplies that include substantial amounts of fresh foods.
  • Non-starchy vegetables, and fruits, probably protect against some cancers. Being typically low in energy density, they probably also protect against weight gain.
  • Red or processed meats are convincing or probable causes of some cancers. Diets with high levels of animal fats are often relatively high in energy, increasing the risk of weight gain.
  • salt and salt- preserved foods are probably a cause of stomach cancer
  • Based solely on the evidence on cancer, even small amounts of alcoholic drinks should be avoided. However, the Panel has also taken into account the evidence that modest amounts of alcoholic drinks are likely to protect against coronary heart disease.
  • Breastfeeding protects against infections in infancy, protects the development of the immature immune system, protects against other childhood diseases, and is vital for the development of the bond between mother and child.