Cancer prevention guidelines

In 1997 the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute of Cancer Research published their expert report on dietary guidelines. Here are some of the exact quotes.

For Food Supply and Eating:

  • Population goal: “population to consume nutritionally adequate and varied diet based primarily on foods of plant origin
  • Individual guideline: “choose predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses (legumes), and minimally processed starchy staple foods”

For Meat:

  • Population goal: “if eaten at all, red meat to provide <10% total energy”
  • Individual guideline: “if eaten at all, limit intake of red meat to <80 g (3 oz) daily; it is preferable to choose fish, poultry, or meat from non-domesticated animals in place of red meat.”

For Vegetables and Fruit:

  • Population goal: “promote year-round consumption of a variety of vegetable and fruits, providing ≥7% total energy”
  • Individual guideline: “eat 400–800 g (15–30 oz) or ≥5 portions (servings) a day of a variety of vegetables and fruits all year round”

The remaining instructions relate to alcohol, tobacco, sugar consumption, oils, salt, additives, supplements, etc. and you can read the guidelines further in Nutrition‘s 27th Volume, Issues 11-12.1

Let’s return to those numbers: veggies to be five or more servings per day and for meat: don’t eat it, but if you do, don’t eat more than 3 ounces. How much is 3 ounces? It’s the size of a deck of cards or bar of soap. That’s it for the whole day!

If this was published in 1997, you’d think cancer would be decreasing since then and not increasing at alarming rates. In my opinion this is because of a few reasons: 1) doctors want to treat your symptoms and are NOT educated in nutrition so they aren’t authorized to give you too much advice there; 2) people believe the media when it tells them meat and dairy are good for them and that they should have lots of it daily; 3) many people don’t care about their bodies and are in denial that what they eat doesn’t do anything to them in the long run, even though science has said otherwise and even though experts who publish these well-researched reports tell you flat out what to do to prevent cancer.

Holman and White from Nutrition Journal explain their own findings: “The consumption of some food items may increase the risk of cancer because of the presence of carcinogenic substances in these items, either naturally occurring or resulting from storage or preparation. Foods thought to be associated with an increased cancer risk include red and processed meats, salt, alcohol, foods contaminated with mycotoxins such as aflatoxin, and arsenic-contaminated water” [2-4]

There is also a journal devoted specifically to this: Nutrition and Cancer. One study found that green tea could be a possible inhibitor of prostate cancer. “In a recent double-blind study in Italy, 30 men with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) were given 600 mg of green tea catechins daily for 12 months, and only one of the patients developed prostate cancer; whereas 9 of the 30 high-grade PIN patients in the placebo group developed prostate cancer.”6-7 I talk about the connection between meat and prostate cancer in my ‘Where do you get your protein? post.

From‘s website: “More healthful eating tips, recipe ideas, and easy ways to squeeze in physical activity are found in Living Smart: The American Cancer Society’s Guide to Eating Healthy and Being Active. Call 1-800-227-2345 to get a free copy of this booklet.”


  1. Marieke Vossenaar, Noel W. Solomons, Roxana Valdés-Ramos, Annie S. Anderson, Agreement between dietary and lifestyle guidelines for cancer prevention in population samples of Europeans and Mesoamericans, Nutrition, Volume 27, Issues 11-12, November-December 2011, Pages 1146-1155, ISSN 0899-9007, 10.1016/j.nut.2011.01.007.
  2. American Institute for Cancer Research: Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. World Cancer Research Fund Washington, DC 2007.
  3. Key TJ, Schatzkin A, Willet WC, Allen NE, Spencer EA, Travis RC: Diet, nutrition and the prevention of cancer. Public Health Nutr 2004, 7(1A):187-200.
  4. Kushi LH, Byers T, Doyle C, Bandera EV, McCollough M, Gansler T, Andrews KS, Thun MJ: American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin 2006, 56(5):254-281.
  5. Holman, D., & White, M. (2011). Dietary behaviors related to cancer prevention among pre-adolescents and adolescents: the gap between recommendations and reality. Nutrition Journal, 1060.
  6. Bettuzzi S, Brausi M, Rizzi F, Castagnetti G, Peracchia G, et al.: Chemo- prevention of human prostate cancer by oral administration of green tea catechins in volunteers with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia: a preliminary report from a one-year proof-of-principle study. Cancer Res 66, 1234–1240, 2006.
  7. Yang, C., & Wang, X. (2010). Green Tea and Cancer Prevention. Nutrition & Cancer, 62(7), 931-937. doi:10.1080/01635581.2010.509536

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