There are about 12.7 million cancer cases globally every year, and this number is expected to increase to 26 million by 2030. The US has the 7th highest overall cancer rate in the world, according to age standardized estimates compiled by the Washington DC–based American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Health Organization.a
February 4 marked World Cancer Day, and February is National Cancer Prevention Month. As part of its cancer awareness and prevention efforts, AICR emphasizes that up to one-third of the most common cancers in the US are preventable. On its website, www.aicr.org, the AICR highlights key cancer facts and figures and offers a variety of cancer-prevention strategies and information to consumers, cancer patients, and health professionals.
To commemorate World Cancer Day, the AICR has posted selected recommendations for cancer prevention, from the 2007 World Cancer Research Fund/AICR Second Expert Report, entitled Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. (Important details about each recommendation are available at www.aicr.org.)
– Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
– Aim to build more activity, like brisk walking, into your daily routine
– Avoid sugary drinks, and limit consumption of energydense foods (ie, those with a high ratio of calories to volume)
– Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes
– Limit red meat consumption (eg, beef, pork, and lamb) and avoid processed meats
– Limit alcoholic drinks (if consumed at all) to 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women
– Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium)
– Do not use dietary supplements to protect against cancer (ie, these should not be a substitute for a healthy diet that includes nutrient-rich whole foods)
– It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months before introducing other liquidsand foods (The WCRF/AICR report notes research suggesting a breast cancer protective effect for mothers and reduced likelihood of childhood overweight/obesity)
– After treatment, cancer survivors should follow recommendations for cancer prevention (ie, recommendations for diet/nutrition, physical activity, and healthy weight maintenance, from an appropriately trained professional)
In addition, the AICR stated that it enthusiastically supports the US Department of Agriculture’s release on January 31, 2011 of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm), noting that the Dietary Guidelines could help to reduce cancer rates in the US, by recommending plant-based diets (with more moderate meat intake), and reduction of dietary sodium, sugar, and highly processed foods.
a This US cancer rate statistic comes from GLOBOCAN, a project by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France. This project provides contemporary estimates of national incidence and mortality from major type of cancers for all countries of the world. It is available online at http://globocan.iarc.fr. IARC is part of the World Health Organization.