Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer and is a risk factor in other cancers, such as bladder cancer and cancers of the head and neck.
Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
After stopping smoking maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. Aim to be at the lower end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range (18.5 to 25 kg/m2). Being overweight can increase your risk of colon, prostate, oesophageal, kidney and gallbladder cancer. Also breast or uterine (womb) cancer if you are a woman.
Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
Regular physical activity can help our heart health but it can also reduce our risk of cancer. Aim to achieve 150 minutes of moderate activity over a week or 30 minutes on at least 5 days of the week.
Limit consumption of foods that are high in fats or have added sugars; limit consumption of foods that are low in fibre and avoid sugary drinks
Choosing healthy foods and drinks can help us avoid being overweight which reduces our risk of cancer.
Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, and pulses such as beans
Vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, and pulses such as beans contain fibre and other nutrients that can reduce our risk of cancer. Eat at least five servings daily.
Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats
For cancer prevention there is some evidence that limiting consumption of red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoiding processed meats reduces cancer risk. Bowel and stomach cancer are more common in people who eat lots of red and processed meat.
If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day
The evidence that alcohol increases the risk of mouth, liver, breast, bowel, and throat cancer, which includes pharyngeal, laryngeal and cancer of the food pipe (oesophagus) is now strong. Moderate your consumption to two drinks per day if you are a man or one drink per day if you are a woman.
Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium)
Consuming too much salt can be harmful to our health, increasing our risk of stomach cancer as well as high blood pressure.
Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer
To reduce your risk of cancer, choose a balanced diet with a variety of foods rather than taking supplements.
Avoid excessive or unprotected sun exposure
Care must be taken to avoid excessive sun exposure. It is particularly important to protect children and adolescents. For individuals who have a tendency to burn in the sun, active protective measures must be taken throughout life.
It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods
There is convincing evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer in mothers and probably helps prevent excess weight gain in their children.
After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention
There is some evidence that, particularly with breast cancer, cancer survivors can reduce their risk of it recurring by eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight.