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Leading A Healthy Lifestyle (From the American Cancer Society Website)

In January 2005, the American Cancer Society announced that cancer has surpassed heart disease as the nation's most lethal illness for those younger than 85. While many factors such as family history and environmental conditions are beyond one's control, it is estimated that 60 to 70% of all cancer could be prevented through diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices.

CFAC encourages through its public awareness program that individuals follow the American Cancer Society's guidelines in fitness and nutrition to minimize risk of cancer. CFAC thanks the ACS for its information. We hope that you will lead a healthy and long life for you and your loved ones to enjoy!

Nutrition and Physical Activity

Eat a variety of healthful foods, with an emphasis on plant sources.

Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.

Choose whole grains in preference to processed (refined) grains and sugars.

Limit consumption of red meats, especially those high in fat and processed.

Choose foods that help maintain a healthful weight.

What Counts as a Serving?




Beans and nuts

Dairy foods and eggs


Adopt a physically active lifestyle.

Adults: Engage in at least moderate activity for 30 minutes or more on 5 or more days of the week; 45 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity on 5 or more days per week may further reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.

Children and adolescents: Engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 5 days per week.

Examples of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activities

Exercise and Leisure


Home Activities

Occupational Activity

Helpful Ways to Be More Active

Maintain a healthful weight throughout life.

Balance caloric intake with physical activity.

Lose weight if currently overweight or obese.

Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of developing several types of cancer:

If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.

People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women. The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and slower metabolism of alcohol. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits.

Alcohol is an established cause of cancers of the:

Alcohol may also increase the risk of colon cancer.

Diet and Physical Activity Factors That Affect Risks for the Most Common Cancers

Although the nutrition and activity guidelines are intended to reduce overall cancer risk, certain dietary and physical activity habits affect the risk for developing specific types of cancer. This section summarizes the relation of diet and physical activity factors to the common cancers in the United States.

Bladder Cancer
The major risk factors for bladder cancer are tobacco smoking and exposure to certain industrial chemicals. However, drinking more fluids and eating more vegetables may lower the risk of bladder cancer.

Brain Cancer
There are no known nutritional risk factors for brain cancer.

Breast Cancer
The risk of breast cancer is increased by several factors that cannot be easily changed:

Other factors that increase risk, however, can be changed by:

Some studies also suggest that diets high in vegetables and fruits decrease the risk for breast cancer, although this evidence is much weaker than for other cancer sites. Alcohol increases risk to some extent, however, and exercising longer and harder may be linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer.

The best advice to reduce the risk of breast cancer is to:

Colorectal Cancer
The risk of colorectal cancer is higher for those with a family history of colorectal cancer. In addition to diet and physical activity, several other factors are linked to this cancer. Risk is increased by tobacco use and may be decreased by use of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and, possibly, by hormone replacement therapy. Currently, however, neither aspirin-like drugs nor postmenopausal hormones are recommended to prevent colorectal cancer because of their potential side effects.

Some studies show a lower risk of colon cancer among those who are moderately active on a regular basis, and more vigorous activity may even further reduce the risk of colon cancer. Being inactive is linked more to an increased risk of cancer of the colon than cancer of the rectum. Diets high in vegetables and fruit may lower the risk, and diets high in red meat may increase the risk of colon cancer. Some evidence shows that folic acid supplements may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

The best advice to reduce the risk of colon cancer is to:

In addition, it is very important to follow the ACS guidelines for regular colorectal screening because finding and removing polyps in the colon can prevent colorectal cancer.

Endometrial Cancer
Studies of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus) show that obesity and use of hormonal replacement therapy after menopause increase risk. The link to weight is thought to result from the increase in estrogen levels that occurs among postmenopausal women who are overweight.

The best advice to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer is to maintain a healthful weight through diet and regular physical activity.

Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer risk is increased among those who are overweight. The reason for this is unknown. The best nutritional advice to lower risk for kidney cancer is to avoid becoming overweight.

Leukemias and Lymphomas
There are no known nutritional risk factors for leukemias or lymphomas.

Lung Cancer
More than 85% of lung cancers result from tobacco smoking. Many studies have shown that the risk of lung cancer is lower among both smokers and nonsmokers who consume at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Although healthful eating may reduce the risk of lung cancer, the risks from tobacco smoking, chewing tobacco, and snuff remain substantial. Using high doses of beta-carotene and/or vitamin A has increased (not decreased) lung cancer risk among smokers (see beta-carotene under Common Questions About Diet and Cancer).

The best advice to reduce the risk of lung cancer is to avoid tobacco use or exposure and to eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits every day.

Oral and Esophageal Cancers
Tobacco (including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff) and alcohol, alone and especially when used together, increase the risk for cancers of the mouth and esophagus. Obesity increases the risk for cancer occurring in the lower esophagus and at the junction of the esophagus and stomach; this is likely due to the increased acid reflux, in which stomach acid flows up into the esophagus. Eating recommended amounts of vegetables and fruit probably reduces the risk of oral and esophageal cancers.

The best advice to reduce the risk of oral and esophageal cancers is to:

Ovarian Cancer
There are no firmly established nutritional risk factors for ovarian cancer, although fruits and vegetables in the diet may lower risk.

Pancreatic Cancer
Tobacco smoking, adult-onset diabetes, and impaired glucose tolerance increase the risk for pancreatic cancer. Some studies have also associated obesity and physical inactivity (both factors strongly linked to abnormal glucose metabolism) with increased pancreatic cancer risk. A diet including fruit and vegetable is associated with a reduced risk.

The best advice to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer is to:

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is clearly related to male sex hormones, but just how nutritional factors might increase risk remains uncertain. Several studies have found that eating large amounts of red meats and dairy products is associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. In addition, a high-calcium intake, primarily through supplements, has been linked to an increased risk for more aggressive types of prostate cancer. Other studies suggest that diets high in certain vegetables (including tomatoes, beans, and other legumes) may be associated with decreased risk. The evidence for these associations is limited, however. The possibility that specific nutrients in foods, notably vitamin E, selenium, and lycopene, may protect against prostate cancer is being investigated.

For now, the best advice to reduce the risk of prostate cancer is to:

Stomach Cancer
The rates of stomach cancer are decreasing as a result of the reduced prevalence of chronic stomach infections by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Year-round consumption of fresh foods made possible by refrigeration and other improvements in food preservation methods also have likely helped to reduce the rates.

At this time, the best advice to reduce the risk of stomach cancer is to eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits daily.