The American Cancer Society has been working to make updates on how to reduce the risk of cancer by exercising and maintaining a healthy diet. It is good to avoid processed foods and instead stick to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Read below to learn more about the recommended amount of exercise and what dietary habits will help you keep a healthy body.
An updated American Cancer Society guideline increases the amount of weekly physical activity recommended to reduce cancer risk.
The guideline — published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians — also suggests individuals reduce consumption of red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed foods and alcohol, and includes evidence-based strategies to reduce barriers to healthy eating and active living.
“We update our guidelines as new scientific evidence becomes available. This update has been in the works for some time now and is finally available for release,” Laura Makaroff, DO, senior vice president of prevention and early detection for American Cancer Society, told Healio. “The updated recommendations reflect the totality of the evidence on diet and physical activity on cancer risk since the last guideline update in 2012.”
The updated American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention — published this morning —recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. The previous guideline recommended at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity weekly.
“The guideline continues to emphasize and help people achieve and maintain a healthy body weight throughout life, as well as continue to be physically active,” Makaroff said. “Moderate activity includes brisk walking and rigorous activity may consist of a light jog to get the heart pumping. The update also includes a recommendation for children to be moderately or vigorously active for at least 1 hour per day, including reducing the time spent being sedentary, such as with screen time,” Makaroff said.
Regarding healthy eating, the updated guideline recommends all age groups consume high-nutrient foods in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. It specifically recommends a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Conversely, the guideline specifies that a healthy eating pattern limits or does not include red or processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, highly processed foods or refined grain products.
The guideline states that it is best to not consume alcohol, strengthening the recommendation from a previous guideline that recommended individuals limit consumption. For those who choose to drink alcohol, the updated guideline recommends maximum daily consumption of one drink for women and two for men.
The updated guideline also includes a recommendation for community action.
“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 alcohol for all individuals,” it states.
Clinicians should remember that helping individuals reduce their cancer risk and make healthy choices can have a significant impact on the nation’s overall cancer burden, Makaroff said.
“We must remember that up to 20% of all cancer cases in the U.S. have some compilation of excess body weight, physical activity and alcohol intake and that these individual risk factors are modifiable,” Makaroff said. “Helping to educate patients and empower them can make a big difference in reducing their risk for cancer.”
It also is important to recognize that, for many individuals, making healthy choices can be challenging.
“Helping the community develop strategies to break down barriers to help all people have access to healthy choices, including eating well and living a physically active lifestyle, is important,” Makaroff said. “The guideline has more specific recommendations around community action for public, private and community organizations to work collaboratively to implement policy and environmental changes to help individuals make healthy choices.”