New Brunswick, N.J., June 24, 2020 –There is no certain way to avoid developing diseases like cancer, but we do know what causes many cancers and how we can incorporate preventative measures into our daily lives. The American Cancer Society recently updated its nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention. These updates focus on increasing physical activity and developing healthy eating patterns at every age, with an emphasis on maintaining a healthy body weight through all stages of life. Recommendations include:

  • More physical activity

It is now recommended that adults get 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these). For children and teens, at least one hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day is sufficient.

  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, and grains

Rather than focusing on specific foods or nutrients, healthy eating patterns are recommended at all ages. Diets high in added sugars, meat, fat and processed foods will put you at a higher risk of developing some types of cancer. It is recommended to eat foods with plenty of nutrients to help maintain a healthy body weight including a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

  • For cancer prevention, it is best not to drink alcohol

Alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risk of many cancers.  Therefore, not drinking alcohol is recommended to reduce cancer risk.  For people who choose to drink, limiting consumption is recommended women should have no more than one drink per day and men should have no more than two. 

  • Community action

To increase access to affordable, nutritious foods and provide accessible opportunities for physical activity, community organizations should work together to develop policy changes that will support these new guidelines.

You may want to discuss these guidelines and recommendations with your healthcare provider. To learn more about cancer prevention from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, visit our Cancer Prevention Resource Center:

As new scientific evidence becomes available, the American Cancer Society updates its guidelines with help from a national panel of experts in cancer research and professionals in the field. The full article including all updates appears in the American Cancer Society’s peer-reviewed journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Elisa V. Bandera, MD, PhD, contributed to the updated American Cancer Society prevention guidelines as a co-author and served on the Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention committee.  She is chief of Cancer Epidemiology and Health Outcomes and co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. She is also a professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a professor of epidemiology at Rutgers School of Public Health.