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Steps to reduce your cancer risk

More than half of cancers could be prevented, simply by making healthy lifestyle choices.

You can reduce your chances of getting cancer by not smoking, eating well, staying a healthy weight, being physically active and staying safe in the sun.

You can find more detail on each of the following recommendations on the Word Cancer Research Fund International's website.

1. Don't smoke

Tobacco is the most common avoidable cause of cancer. It increases the chances of getting at least 14 different types of cancer. If you already smoke, then stopping can still reduce your chances of getting cancer.

2. Stay a healthy weight

Keep your weight as low as you can, within your healthy range. To do this, it will help to limit the amount of high-fat, high-sugar foods you eat (including high-fat, high-sugar, low-fibre processed food). Stay away from high-sugar drinks and limit fruit juice, as it's high in calories.

3. Move more

Take every chance you can to be physically active. Be active for at least 30 minutes a day and try to avoid sitting a lot.

4. Eat more grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes

Up your fruit and vegetable intake and have lots of wholegrains. Enjoy legumes such as cooked dried beans, split peas and lentils.

5. Eat less red meat and avoid processed meat

Limit yourself to no more than 700 g (uncooked weight) of red meat a week. This includes pork, as well as beef and lamb. Stay away from processed meat such as bacon, ham, salami and corned beef (or silverside).

6. Don't drink alcohol

To prevent cancer, it's best not to drink alcohol at all. If you do drink alcohol, follow national guidelines on how much to drink safely.

7. Eat less salt, avoid mouldy grains and cereals

Add less salt to your food and eat less food processed with salt. Limit the amount of salt you eat to less than 6 g or about 1 tsp a day.

Don't eat any mouldy grains or cereal. They could be contaminated by cancer-causing chemicals called aflatoxins.

8. Don't rely on supplements

Eat a healthy diet rather than relying on supplements for cancer-protecting nutrients.

9. Breastfeed your baby

If you can, breastfeed your baby for six months before adding other foods.

10. Avoid too much sun exposure

You can avoid most skin cancers by staying safe in the sun.

11. Get immunised against HPV

If you are a woman, being immunised against HPV decreases your chance of getting cervical cancer.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Reducing your risk of mouth & throat cancer

Written by dietitian, St George's Cancer Care Centre. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created June 2017. Last updated April 2019.


Page reference: 307664

Review key: HICCR-38555