10 Things You Can Do To Help Prevent Cancer

Healthy food

With so much information floating around these days, it’s difficult to deduce the correct steps that need to be taken to reduce the risk of cancer. Below are 10 lifestyle suggestions that would greatly improve your chances of not developing cancer. Also included, are special suggestions for cancer survivors.

  1. Maintain body weight within the normal range throughout adulthood
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
  3. Avoid sugary drinks
  4. Eat mostly plant-based foods
  5. Limit the intake of red meat and avoid processed meat
  6. Limit alcoholic drinks
  7. Limit consumption of salt
  8. Meet nutritional needs through food alone, not supplements


1. Maintain body weight within the normal range throughout adulthood.

“Maintenance of a healthy weight throughout life may be one of the most important ways to protect against cancer” stated the independent panel of 21 leading scientists from institutions worldwide, including the University of Pennsylvania, University College London, Kyushu University in Japan, and Harvard School of Public Health.

Being as lean as possible within the normal range from age 21 is optimal to prevent cancer, but at any time in life, it helps to lose weight if you’re overweight, stated the panel. Even a 5 to 10% weight loss can be help.

There is so much we can do to control cancer risk. That’s important to stress. The impression given of cancer is that it is some monster that randomly strikes out of nowhere. Not the case at all. Eating habits, physical activity, and maintaining an ideal weight play a huge role in cancer prevention.

2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.

Aim for moderate (brisk walking) to high intensity exercise ( jogging, cycling, weight-lifting)  for at least 30 mins every day.

3. Avoid sugary drinks

To prevent weight gain, avoid calorie-dense, processed food. Food supplies that are mainly made up of processed foods and contain substantial amounts of fat or sugar, tend to be more calorie-dense than food supplies that include substantial amounts of fresh foods.

For a less calorie-dense diet, fill each day with water-rich, fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, hot cereals, and potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Foods with a lot of water and fibre usually provide a lot of stomach-satisfying volume, but not a lot of calories.

In terms of beverages, avoid sugar-rich drinks, too. Clearly, the known culprits are soda/fizzy drinks, but there are others such as fruit juices.

While a glass of fruit juice provides vitamins, minerals and fibre (particularly if the juice contains fruit pulp), fruit juice also contains around 13g of sugar. Some fruit juice drinks may even contain added sugar. In short, these drinks are simply adding to your calorific intake, which means an increase in body fat and body weight.

4. Eat mostly plant-based foods

Eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, as well as unprocessed whole grains and/or legumes. These foods are not only high in dietary fibre, but they are also nutrient dense, while being low in calorific density. This is the sort of fuel that your body craves, and will provide substantial benefits to your health.

5. Limit the intake of red meat and avoid processed meat

Red meats (beef, pork, lamb) as well as processed meats (sausage, bacon, hot dogs, ham) have shown strong ties to certain types of cancers. These include cancers of the colon, oesophagus, lung, stomach, and prostate.

Moreover, red and processed meats contain a high fat and sodium content, leading to weight gain and blood pressure issues respectively.

A suitable substitute would be white meat (poultry) and seafood. The flesh is leaner, and more nourishing. Even flesh from active, wild animals (venison, goat), whose nutritional profiles are different from those of domesticated and industrially reared creatures, is acceptable.

For optimal protection against cardiovascular disease, it is recommended that we eat no more than 3.5 to 4 ounces (cooked) of animal protein each day. Your optimal choice is seafood, except for some of the higher-cholesterol selections like eel, conch, and squid. Once a week, you may opt for skinless white poultry or grass-fed, free-range wild game such as buffalo, elk, and venison. Try to limit other red meat choices to once a month – or not at all.

6. Limit alcoholic drinks.

Even though there is evidence that modest amounts of alcoholic drinks (red wine) are likely to protect against coronary heart disease, the data on cancer indicates that “even small amounts of alcoholic drinks should be avoided.”

Alcoholic drinks are linked to mouth, larynx, and colorectal cancer and may also cause liver cancer.

If you consume alcoholic drinks, it is advised to limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

These modest levels of consumption are associated with reductions in heart disease risk only among middle-aged and older individuals, because heart disease is a much larger factor in these groups.

7. Limit consumption of salt

Salt is necessary for human health and life itself, so it’s inaccurate to state that it should be cut from our diets entirely.  Salt aids in maintaining body fluid concentration, muscle contraction, and contains nutrients that are vital to your stomach. When we sweat excessively we lose salt, which must be replenished. The problem is that salt consumption tends to be at excessive levels. Salt and salt-preserved foods are a probable cause of some cancers, particularly stomach cancer.

To avoid cancer, consumption of processed foods should be reduced. To avoid not only cancer but also cardiovascular-related diseases like hypertension and heart attacks, salt intake should be limited to 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams a day.

8. Meet nutritional needs through food alone, not supplements.

Consuming dietary supplements and ‘’fortified’’ foods for cancer prevention is not the right way to nourish the body. Food is the best nourishment source.

The fortification of foods (cereals, milk) began in the 1980’s and served its purpose as a marketing ploy to encourage consumers that sought out healthier food choices. Truth be known, the only foods that have never been labelled as “fortified” or “good for you” are  fruits and vegetables. Naturally rich in virtually every nutrient we need, but never at artificially high, potentially dangerous levels.

Eat real food. Foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, yams, oats, corn on the cob, and brown rice. These foods are the best source of nourishment.



Control your weight. Eat your vegetables. Limit salt. Cut down on alcohol. Cut out fatty animal products and refined carbs. Don’t smoke. Exercise daily. That’s how you prevent cancer. This is not a new discovery. It will be an adjustment, and have its challenges, but it will improve your life. This is how to prevent cancer.

Further reading on pritikin.com

Photo from Christiana Care on Flickr