The American Cancer Society has released new guidelines for reducing the risk of cancer.
The recommendations include the latest research on diet and physical activity, as well as policy and systems changes that reduce barriers to healthy living.
The update focuses on increasing physical activity and developing healthy eating patterns at every age.
Here are some of the recommendations:
Adults should engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
Achieving or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is optimal.
It is best not to drink alcohol.
People who choose to drink alcohol should limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages.
A healthy eating pattern includes foods that are high in nutrients in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, a variety of colorful vegetables and fiber-rich legumes (beans and peas), whole fruits with a variety of colors, and whole grains.
A healthy eating pattern limits or does not include red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, highly processed foods, and refined grain products.
The American Cancer Society advises public, private, and community organizations to work collaboratively at national, state, and local levels to develop, advocate for, and implement policy and environmental changes.
They say those changes should include increased access to affordable, nutritious foods, as well as providing safe, enjoyable, and accessible opportunities for physical activity, and limiting alcohol for all individuals.
Previously, the recommendations read that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly were sufficient, and alcohol consumption should be limited.
The prior recommendations also suggested a diet with more plant foods, and foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and eating at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day while choosing whole grains.
“The guideline continues to reflect the current science that dietary patterns, not specific foods, are important to reduce the risk of cancer and improve overall health,” said Laura Makaroff, DO, the American Cancer Society’s senior vice president of prevention and early detection.
“There is no one food or even food group that is adequate to achieve a significant reduction in cancer risk,” she said in a press release. “Current and evolving scientific evidence supports a shift away from a nutrient-centric approach to a more holistic concept of dietary patterns.”
“People eat whole foods — not nutrients — and evidence continues to suggest that it is healthy dietary patterns that are associated with reduced risk for cancer, especially colorectal and breast cancer,” said Makaroff.
Nutrition expert offers advice: “Some of my clients have expressed concern when new guidelines come out, saying things like, ‘Now what do I need to give up?’” said Caroline West Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN, a registered dietician nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“I encourage everyone to think about what the guidelines really mean, what small shifts they can make to work toward them, and what they can add, not take away,” she told Healthline.
“Also, many times the guidelines remain very similar, but they are just presented in a different, more relevant way,” she added.
For example, she said, “The recommendation to limit red and processed meats is not new or specific to a diet pattern for cancer prevention.”
“What is important to remember is that limiting red and processed meats and following a plant-based diet does not mean you need to be a vegetarian to see benefits,” Passerrello said.