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American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and activity

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), up to one third of the cancer deaths in the USA each year can be attributed to diet and physical activity habits....

cancer prevention However, the risk of developing cancer durings one's lifetime can be substantially reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, staying active throughout life and consuming a healthy diet.

The ACS has released its most recent set of guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. These recommendations, based upon a synthesis of the current scientific evidence on diet and physical activity in relation to cancer risk, represent a contemporary and concise summary of the totality of that evidence.

ACS Recommendations for Individuals:

Maintain a healthy weight throughout life:
• Balance caloric intake with physical activity.
• Avoid excessive weight gain throughout the life cycle.
• Achieve and maintain a healthy weight if currently overweight or obese.

Adopt a physically active lifestyle:
•Adults: engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, above usual activities, on 5 or more days of the week. Forty-five to 60 minutes of intentional physical activity are preferable.
•Children and adolescents: engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 5 days per week.

Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources:
• Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
• Choose whole grains in preference to processed (refined) grains.
• Limit consumption of processed and red meats.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption:
• Drink no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.

ACS Recommendations for Physical Activity:

cancer preventionModerate Intensity Activities:
• Exercise and leisure: Walking, dancing, leisurely bicycling, ice and rollerskating, horseback riding, canoeing, yoga
• Sports: Volleyball, golfing, softball, baseball, badminton,doubles tennis, downhill skiing
• Home activities: Mowing the lawn, general yard and garden maintenance
• Occupational activity: Walking and lifting as part of the job (custodial work,farming, auto or machine repair)

Vigorous Intensity Activities:
• Exercise and leisure: Jogging or running, fast bicycling, circuit weight training, aerobic dance, martial arts, jumping rope, swimming
• Sports: Soccer, field or ice hockey, lacrosse, singles tennis, racquetball, basketball, cross-country skiing
• Home activities: Digging, carrying and hauling, masonry, carpentry
• Occupational activity: Heavy manual labour (forestry, construction, firefighting)The Dietary Recommendations - Some Specifics

Consume a Healthy Diet, with an Emphasis on Plant Sources:

preventing cancerVegetables and Fruits:
"Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce cancer risk both directly and indirectly by contributing to maintenance of a healthy weight. Vegetable and fruit consumption has also been found to be associated with reduced risk of other chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, an important contributor to overall morbidity and mortality in the United States. For cancer risk reduction, the recommendation is to consume at least five servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day; however, for overall health, the ACS supports the recommendation to consume higher levels, depending on calorie needs, as stated in the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

Whole Grains:
"Consumption of high-fiber foods is associated with a lower risk of several chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and diverticulitis. Consuming high-fiber foods, such as legumes and whole grain breads, cereals, rice, and pasta, is therefore highly recommended, even though data for an association between fiber and cancer risk are limited. Because the benefits of whole grain foods may derive from their other nutrients as well as fiber, it is preferable to consume whole grain foods rather than fiber supplements."

Processed and Red Meats:
"Although meats are good sources of high quality protein and can supply many important vitamins and minerals, they remain major contributors of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in the American diet. The recommendation is to limit consumption of processed and red meats. To accomplish this, choose lean meats and smaller portions, and use meat as a side dish rather than as the focus of a meal. Legumes are especially rich in nutrients that may protect against cancer and can be a healthier source of protein than red meats. Although cooking meat at high temperatures, such as in grilling or frying, can produce potential carcinogens, care should be taken to cook meat thoroughly to destroy harmful bacteria and parasites, but to avoid charring."

If You Drink Alcoholic Beverages, Limit Consumption:
"People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women. The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and slower metabolism of alcohol. A drink of alcohol is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Alcohol consumption is an established cause of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and liver. For each of these cancers, risk increases substantially with intake of more than two drinks per day."

ACS Recommendations for Community Action:

Public, private, and community organizations should work to create social and physical environments that support the adoption and maintenance of healthful nutrition and physical activity behaviours.

• Increase access to healthful foods in schools, worksites, and communities.
• Provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible environments for physical activity in schools, and for transportation and recreation in communities.

The Importance of Community Action:
It is noteworthy that the ACS guidelines detail a set of actions that communities can implement to help address the cancer burden via improvements in diet as well as physical activity levels.

"Community efforts are essential to create a social environment that promotes healthy food choices and physical activity. Thus, the recommendation for community action recognizes that a supportive social environment is indispensable if individuals at all levels of society are to have genuine opportunities to choose healthy behaviours."

Source: Sanitarium Nutrition Service email. Website: Journal: CA Cancer J Clin 2006; 56:254-281, American Cancer Society Inc 2006.

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