Cancer Prevention Guidelines

The American Cancer Society has published extensive lifestyle guidelines for cancer prevention. (CA Cancer J Clin 2012;62:30-67)

There are 572,000 cancer deaths in the United States each year, one third of which are attributable to diet and physical activity habits, mainly overweight and obesity. Fully another third is a result of exposure to tobacco products.

Overweight and obesity are estimated to cause 14% to 20% of cancer-related deaths. The major cancers related to overweight are breast cancer in post-menopausal women, colon and rectal cancer, endometrial, kidney, esophageal and pancreatic cancer. Several other cancers are likely related to overweight, including liver cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, multiple myeloma, cervical, ovarian and prostate cancer.

A minor reduction in caloric intake, only 50-100 calories a day, may be enough to prevent weight gain, and successful weight loss may occur with caloric reduction of 500 calories a day. Foods that aggravate the problem include fried foods, cookies, cakes, candies, and sugar-sweetened beverages. These foods should be replaced with vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. Most restaurants offer meals that exceed recommended serving sizes, are high in hidden fats and sugars, and low in vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.

The health of children, and of the teenagers and adults they will become, is closely tied to the establishment of healthy behaviors in childhood. Weight gain, poor diets, and physical inactivity during childhood and adolescence increase the later risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis later in life. Overweight young people tend to remain overweight when they become adults.

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