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A healthy diet plays a critical role in preventing cancer. While everyone should develop eating habits that will reduce the risk of cancer later in life, it is particularly important for cancer survivors.
Healthy eating habits can help reduce the risk of obesity and may reduce the risk of some types of adult cancers.
Recommendations for diet, weight, and physical activity include:
Nutrition professionals recommend eating a healthy diet, with a special emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, controlling calorie intake can help in maintaining a healthy weight.
Pay close attention to portion size and calories.
Researchers have studied how certain types of food and parts of foods could affect cancer growth. There is evidence that certain substances in foods might slow cancer cell growth and protect against cancer:
Eating more calories than the body needs can result in weight gain.
Being overweight or obese is linked with an increased risk of several types of cancer including:
Getting regular physical activity can help prevent obesity. Physical activity may also reduce risk of certain cancers apart from its effect on obesity.
Adults should get at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. Moderate-intensity physical activity is like a brisk walk.
Children and teens need even more physical activity:
Drinking alcohol, such as wine, beer and liquor, increases the risk of cancer. Alcohol is directly linked to the risk of developing cancers of the head and neck, liver, esophagus, breast cancer and colon and rectum.
While researchers do not know exactly why alcohol increases cancer risk, possibilities include:
If adults drink alcohol, intake should be limited to up to 2 drinks per day for men and up to 1 drink per day for women. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor (distilled alcohol).
Other suggestions to limit alcohol use include:
Talk with a provider about the risk for the cancer. Doctors may recommend limiting or avoiding alcohol entirely to help reduce the risk for secondary cancer.
It is also important for patients to ask a doctor if it is safe to drink alcohol during illness or while taking certain drugs.
Reviewed: June 2021