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June 2023

Cancer Experts Offer 10 Lifesaving Tips

Just how much can lifestyle choices affect your chances of getting cancer? Quite a bit, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In fact, about 18% of cancers have been linked to things such as carrying excess pounds and not getting enough exercise.

But here’s the good news: You don’t have to be part of that statistic. Follow these strategies from the ACS and other cancer experts to make healthy habits part of your everyday routine.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity raises the risk for cancer. Calculate your body mass index (BMI). Divide your weight in pounds by the square of your height in inches. Multiply the results by 703. You can also use an online BMI calculator. Adults ages 20 or older should have a BMI that stays between 18.5 and 24.9.

  2. Exercise. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity five days a week.

  3. Limit high-calorie foods and drinks. These include fast food, sodas, and other items with few nutrients per calorie.

  4. Make plant-based foods the biggest part of your diet. At each meal, fill two-thirds of your plate with a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

  5. Ration red meat and eat little or no processed meat. Eat less than three servings per week (about 12 to 18 ounces) of beef, pork, lamb, or other types of red meat. Any amount of processed meat, such as sausage, appears to increase cancer risk.

  6. Restrict alcohol. Women should drink no more than one alcoholic drink a day, and men no more than two.

  7. Curb salt intake. The American Heart Association recommends having no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day. Ideally, most adults should limit it even more—to 1,500 milligrams a day or less.

  8. Choose nutrient-rich foods over supplements. Your health care provider may recommend a supplement if you are pregnant or if you have other health issues.

  9. Breast milk is beneficial. Breastfeeding may protect moms from breast cancer and babies from obesity later in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents use breast milk for at least a year—alone for six months and then mixed with other foods.

  10. Remain diligent after cancer. If you are a cancer survivor, you should stick to the same healthy lifestyle recommendations you followed before your diagnosis. Check with your provider first.



Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2023
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