The Key Principles of Cancer Nutrition


It is known that many cancers, although not all, can be preventable through diet and lifestyle changes. The World Cancer Research Fund have created a list of key recommendations to lower people’s risk of cancer, and also to help people improve their overall health after a cancer diagnosis. These recommendations are based on the findings of numerous studies investigating the link between lifestyle and cancer risk.

Body Fat

Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight. We should all aim to maintain our body within the normal body fat percentage range. Too much fat, especially around the belly, increases your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Physical activity

 It is recognised that people who are more active have a lower risk of cancer, and other illnesses. The term ‘physically active’ includes formal exercise such as gym-work or running, as well as every day activities such as walking to the shops, gardening or doing the housework.

Try to maximise the amount you move throughout the day and reduce the number of hours you spend sat still. The pedometer provided by the CP+R team can help you to track how many steps you are taking each day.

Food and drink that promote weight gain

 Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.

Some foods provide ‘empty calories’ meaning they contribute to weight gain but offer no nutritional benefit. These foods are usually rich in refined sugars such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, pastries, fizzy drinks and ice-cream. Try to eat these foods only occasionally – they should not be included in your everyday diet.

Plant foods

Conversely, plant foods are low in calories but packed full of nutrition meaning you can eat larger volumes of these foods without causing weight gain. The term ‘plant foods’ encompasses all fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oats, whole-wheat pasta or bread, wholegrain or basmati rice. Ideally, 75% of your diet would be made up from plant foods with the remaining 25% filled by low-fat dairy produce, eggs, lean meat, fish and healthy oils.

Animal foods

Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.

Some studies have suggested that a high intake of red meat and processed meat is linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer. Red meats and processed meats are high in saturated fat and salt and should be limited not just to lower cancer risk but also to protect your heart health. Cutting down your red meat intake can enable you to eat more fish, lean poultry and plant proteins and therefore improve the overall quality of your diet. As a general rule try not to eat red meat more than twice per week.

Alcoholic drinks

 Alcoholic drinks can contribute to weight gain. We often eat less healthily for several days after drinking due to the effects alcohol has on our energy levels and appetite. Try to have at least two consecutive days each week where you do not drink alcohol and have a glass of water between drinks to lower your overall intake.

Dietary supplements

Most research suggests that we should be able to obtain all of the nutrients we need from a well- balanced diet without the need for vitamin and mineral supplements. Some research even suggests that high dose nutritional supplements may be harmful for our health.

We recommend that you seek professional advice before taking any nutritional supplements from either your GP or a registered dietician.