Diet Plan to Preventing Cancer

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

A long-awaited scientific report on cancer prevention stated plain and simple that the more pounds you’re carrying, the greater your risk of developing one or more of 17 cancers. After analyzing 7,000 scientific studies, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research made 8 diet recommendations you can use to lower the odds of developing cancer.

Summary: 8-Action Cancer Prevention Diet

  1. Be as lean as possible.
    Aim for Body Mass Index of 21 – 23.
  2. Be Active.
    Aim for 60 minutes or more moderate activity every day, or 30+ minutes of vigorous activity.
  3. Avoid energy-dense foods and sugary drinks.
    Avoid foods that are high in fat, like fast foods and processed foods. Also avoid sugary drinks like soda.
  4. Eat plant-based foods.
    Aim for 5 servings of non-starchy fruits and vegetables every day (potato, yam, sweet potato, and cassava don’t count). Eat only limited amounts of refined grains like white bread and pasta. Instead, include legumes or whole grains in every meal.
  5. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
    Limit red meat intake (beef, pork, lamb and goat) to less than 18 oz. a week and avoid processed meat at all costs.
  6. Limit alcohol.
    Men: no more than 2 drinks a day
    Women: no more than 1 drink a day
  7. Limit salty foods.
    Salt and salt-preserved foods are probably a cause of stomach cancer. Limit sodium intake to 2400 mg a day.
  8. Don’t bank on pills.
    Some supplements or high-dose nutrients are associated with higher risk of developing cancer. Stick to a healthy diet instead and don’t bank on dietary supplements as the magic pills in preventing cancer.

The Bottom Line

Editor’s Note: More Plants and Be Lean

This new recommendation is mostly consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Linking red meat and processed meat to colorectal cancer, a new recommendation made by WCRF is to limit red meat to 18 oz. a week and avoid processed meat altogether.

Overall, the WCRF report concludes that obesity increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus, colorectum, pancreas, breast, endometrium, and kidney.

The main focus of the above diet recommendations should be getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and other plant-based foods such as whole grains and legumes. These plant-based foods will replace energy-dense foods such as sugary drinks, high-fat foods and snacks, and processed meats.

Cancer Fighting Vegetables

The fact is, many types of vegetables can prevent cancer and provide the protection against cancer. Research has identified many active ingredients found in vegetables and their roles in protecting different types of cancer.

Vegetables with the Highest Anti-cancer Activity

  • garlic
  • cabbage
  • soy
  • ginger
  • umbelliferous vegetables such as carrots, celery, cilantro, parsley and parsnip

Vegetables with the Modest Anti-cancer Activity

  • onions
  • flax seed
  • citrus
  • cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower
  • solanaceous vegetables such as tomato and peppers

The Bottom Line

Not only do vegetables prevents cancer, they are also an essential member in a heart-healthy diet. Include at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits daily and enjoy the benefits offered by them.


bmi, cancer diet, vegetables


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