Top tips to help reduce your risk of cancer

  1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet – try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and include high-fibre and wholegrain foods in your diet like wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholewheat pasta and pulses (e.g. lentils and beans), nuts and seeds.
  2. Keep track of your red and processed meat intake – if you on average eat more than 90 grams (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day (that’s around 600g a week) cut down to 70 grams a day (that’s less than 500g a week).
  3. Watch your salt intake – aim for less than 6g a day. Check the nutrition label on foods, choose reduced salt versions of foods, and don’t add salt in cooking or at the table.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight or obese is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking. If you need help losing weight speak to your GP for advice on the support that is available to you.
  5. Keep active – aim for at least 150 (2 hours and 30 minutes) minutes a week of moderate activity – that’s the type of activity where you raise your heart beat and sweat but you are still able to talk. This can be fast walking, dancing or even housework or gardening if you put enough brisk activity into it!
  6. Drink in moderation – try to drink no more than 14 units a week, with several alcohol-free days each week.
  7. Give up smoking – smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer.

Each year in the UK, more than 331,000 people are diagnosed with cancer. The four most common cancers (breast, prostate, lung, bowel (colorectal)) make up over half of all these cases. It is estimated that 1 in 2 people will develop cancer at some point in their lives.

Many people are affected by cancer, either directly, or because they know somebody who has been affected by the disease. Unfortunately there are no proven ways to prevent cancer, but the good news is there are some lifestyle measures you can take to help reduce your risk.

Cancer is a complex disease and the risk of developing cancer depends on a combination of factors including your genes, your environment and other aspects of your life, many of which we can control. For example, smoking, over exposure to the sun or sunbeds, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight or obese and lack of physical activity (for more information on genetic and environmental causes of cancer go to Cancer Research UK).

Tobacco is the single biggest avoidable cause of cancer in the world. Smoking causes over a quarter of cancer deaths in the UK and nearly one in five cancer cases. Obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.

But eating a healthy, balanced diet can play an important role in reducing your risk of cancer.

It is estimated that healthier diets could help prevent 1 in 10 cancers in the UK, The strongest dietary links are with cancers of the digestive tract – mouth, food pipe (gullet or oesophagus), stomach and bowel (colon).

The following sections provide tips on how diet and some lifestyle changes can help to lower your risk of cancer. This includes:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Maintaining a healthy weight
Staying physically active
Drinking less alcohol

If you are a new mum then, breastfeeding may help to protect you and your baby from risk of certain cancers later in life.

Breastfeeding reduces the mother's risk of breast cancer.

Evidence also suggests that being breastfed may protect children against being overweight and obese, which in turn reduces their risk of cancer in the future.