On June 9th, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released updates to its diet and activity guideline for cancer prevention. Since 1991, the ACS has published nutritional and physical activity guidelines to inform the public, policy makers and health professionals on diet and activity behaviors that reduce the risk of cancer. Also addressed is what communities can do to facilitate healthy nutrition and physician activity among its residents. These recommendations are updated as new scientific data and screening technologies become available.
Experts Weigh In
When new evidence on diet, physical activity and cancer risks emerge, a diverse committee of volunteer experts reviews the information. They also look at what policy or system changes can be made to reduce barriers in the public’s ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The committee also considers recommendations from the International Agency on Cancer Research, the World Cancer Research Fund, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
There are key differences in the updated guideline, with a focus on alcohol, physical activity, and diet. Let’s take a closer look.
Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men.
It is best not to drink alcohol. For people who choose to drink, consumption should be limited to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
Consume a healthy diet:
Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
Limit the consumption of red and processed meat
Eat 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits daily
Choose whole grains instead of refined grains
Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages:
A healthy eating pattern includes:
High nutrient foods in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
A variety of vegetables (dark greens, red and orange, fiber-rich beans, and peas)
Fruits (whole fruits recommended) with a variety of colors
Whole grains instead of refined grains.
A healthy eating pattern does not include:
Read and processed meats
Highly processed foods and refined grain products
Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity of physical activity each week.
Adults should engage in 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week; achieving or exceeding 300 minutes is optimal.
Public, private and community organizations should work collaboratively at national, state, and local levels to implement policy and environmental changes that:
Increase access to affordable, healthy foods in communities, worksites, and schools, and decrease access to and marketing of foods and beverages of low nutritional value, particularly to youth.
Provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible environments for physical activity in schools and worksites, and for transportation and recreation in communities.
Public, private, and community organizations should work collaboratively at national, state, and local levels to develop, advocate for, and implement policy and environmental changes that increase access to affordable, nutritious foods; provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible opportunities for physical activity; and limit access to alcoholic beverages for all individuals.
Lifestyle risk factors, such as being overweight, lack of activity, unhealthy diet and drinking alcohol, play a part in almost 1 in 5 U.S. cancers. The changes made to the updated guidelines focus in on these modifiable risk factors, with the message:
Pass on these unhealthy food choices:
Red and processed meat
Highly processed food
Skip the alcohol
Amp up your activity
Sit less, move more
The ACS also recommends community involvement to support people in making healthy lifestyle choices. Community initiatives, such as promoting access to affordable healthy foods and providing safe opportunities for activity, also help reduce the public’s risk of cancer.
Let’s Hear from You
What barriers have you encountered in trying to reduce your cancer risk?
American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention
Exercise, Diet, Alcohol: New guidelines detail best ways to reduce cancer