Nutrition, Healthy Eating and Cancer

Posted: Mar 25, 2013

Lifelong healthy eating can help play a role in cancer prevention. Follow these basic healthy eating guidelines to help you reduce your risk of cancer.

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Know your Body Mass Index and keep yours in the healthy range throughout your life.
  • Follow Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and:
  • be sure to eat the recommended amounts; of vegetables and fruit each day;
  • enjoy a variety of colourful vegetables and fruit each day;
  • eat less than 500 grams of red meat each week.
  • eat little, if any, processed meats such as deli meats, bacon or hot dogs; and,
  • limit foods and beverages high in calories, fat or sugar to help maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, drink no more than:
    • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks most days
    • 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days.
    Be sure to include non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit.
  • Include physical activity every day. Aim for at  least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, every day. As your fitness improves, increase your activity to 60 or more minutes of moderate activity or 30 or more minutes of vigorous physical activity every day. Limit sedentary activity such as television watching.
  • Avoid high doses of vitamin or mineral suppplements as they may contribute to increased cancer risk. Instead, aim to meet your nutrient needs with healthy food. Note that supplements with antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin E, selenium or others have not been shown to protect against developing cancer. Vitamin E may in fact increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

If you are affected by cancer, nutrition and healthy eating become an important part of your treatment and well being; a dietitian will be a key member of your health care team. The Canadian Cancer Society ( ) provides patients and their families with current and credible information on a wide variety of topics relating to cancer. You can find guidelines for healthy eating to help prevent cancer along with nutrition tips for living with cancer.