In Brief

Ten ways to reduce the risk of cancer

New report says obesity set to overtake smoking as leading global cause of the disease

A newly published ten-point “blueprint to beat cancer” could help prevent up to 40% of all cancer cases, according to experts.

The report, updated every decade by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), analyses the reasons for the global rise in cancer rates and provides guidelines on how to reduce the risk of getting the disease.

The global health authority warns that obesity is set to overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer within a couple of decades in many countries, including the UK. Regularly drinking sugary drinks and eating junk food, which can cause weight gain, therefore increases the risk of cancer, the report says.

Processed foods and meat are also identified as high-risk foods, because of carcinogenic chemicals involved in their preparation.

The WCRF says that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink, and that consuming it even “in moderation” still increases the risk of at least six cancers.

Instead, people should “maintain adequate hydration by drinking water or unsweetened drinks, such as tea or coffee without added sugar”.

Professor Linda Bauld, of Cancer Research UK, said: “This report supports what we already know – the key to cutting cancer risk is through our way of life. Not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating and drinking healthily, and getting more active, all helps.”

The ten recommended steps for reducing cancer risks are:

  1. Keeping a healthy weight
  2. Maintaining physical activity - at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week
  3. Eating five portions of fruit and veg a day, particularly green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and okra
  4. Reducing intake of processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars, such as pre-prepared dishes, snacks, bakery foods, desserts and sweets
  5. Eating no more than three portions a week of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb, and as little processed meat as possible
  6. Drinking water and unsweetened drinks, and avoiding fruit juice
  7. Not drinking alcohol
  8. Avoiding dietary supplements (aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone)
  9. Breastfeeding babies
  10. Following the above recommendations even after a cancer diagnosis

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