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How to Eat Healthier for Cancer Prevention
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How to Eat Healthier for Cancer Prevention

Cancer is a leading cause of death globally.[1] However, there are several things you can do to lower your risk, and that includes consuming a nutritious diet. This Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve compiled some tips to help you eat your way to a healthier lifestyle.


Go Mediterranean

Who says healthy eating has to be dull and bland? Enter the Mediterranean diet – a plant and seafood-based diet that recommends eating foods high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish.[3]

Inspired by traditional meals served in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece, and Italy,[2] you can expect both flavourful and nutritious dishes. Plus, multiple studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet promotes weight loss while preventing stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer risk.[4] Your day on a Mediterranean diet might look like this:

  • Breakfast: yogurt with sliced fruit and nuts.

  • Lunch: a wholegrain sandwich with hummus and vegetables.

  • Dinner: grilled salmon with brown rice and vegetables.

There are lots of creative and delicious recipes in a Mediterranean diet, so you’ll never be bored of eating the same thing over and over again!


Limit red and processed meat

Did you know in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified red meat and processed meat such as beef, pork, hot dogs and ham as carcinogens – a substance capable of causing cancer?[5] It’s never easy to go cold turkey when making lifestyle changes, so here are a few ways you can reduce your red meat consumption and cancer risk at the same time:

  • Eat no more than one serving of lean red meat per day or two servings 3-4 times a week.[6]

  • Opt for vegetarian, seafood or white meat options when you dine out or shop for groceries.

  • Eggs, beans and lentils are just as delicious and give you the protein boost you need.



Drink less booze

The sobering truth about alcohol is that it increases your risk of developing several types of cancer, particularly breast, colorectal and liver.[7] Like red and processed meat, alcohol is classified as a carcinogen by WHO[8], and 4% of cancers worldwide are linked to alcohol consumption.[9] Social drinkers aren’t off the hook either. Studies found that 13% of alcohol-attributed cases were associated with light and moderate drinking.

Here are some tips for drinking in moderation:

  • Aim to consume no more than two drinks a day. For reference, one drink is equivalent to one can of beer, one glass of wine or one shot of spirits.[7]

  • Try replacing alcohol with tea. You’ll still get the same feeling of relaxation, without the harmful effects!


Eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day

Even if you don’t go Mediterranean, incorporating enough fruit and veg into your everyday meals is essential. These foods contain antioxidants which help prevent cancer by fighting free radicals.[10]

There are also plenty of options. From leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, kale, collard greens and broccoli to citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines – you’ll be spoilt for choice!


Reduce your salt and sugar intake

While you might think eating a nutritious diet requires a lot of extra time, effort and money, it’s not as hard or expensive as you may think. You can eat healthily by simply cutting back on salt and sugar as overconsumption has been linked to an increased cancer risk.[11]

To start with, try using less salt in your cooking. This doesn’t mean you should never use salt again. It just means that if you use it, do so sparingly. If possible, avoid foods with a lot of added sugar, like candy bars and cookies. If you can’t avoid them entirely, try to limit yourself to one serving per day (or less!).

Keeping this information in mind and making simple lifestyle changes makes the payoff enormous: you’ll reduce your cancer risk and live a longer, healthier life!



  1. Cancer. World Health Organization.2022.Accessed 13 June 2022. Available from :

  2. Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan and Beginner’s Guide.Helathline 2021. Accessed 13 June 2022.Available from

  3. Definition of the Mediterranean Diet: A Literature Review. National Center for Biotechnology Information., 2015.Available from

  4. Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: Metabolic and Molecular Mechanisms.2018. Accessed 13 June 2022. Available from

  5. WHO report says eating red meat is carcinogenic.Harvard.2015.Accessed 13 June 2022. Available from:

  6. Red meat, processed meat and cancer.Cancer Council. Accessed 13 June.2022.Available from: 

  7. The Sobering Truth about Alcohol and Cancer. Singapore Cancer Society.2018. Accessed 13 June 2022. Available from

  8. Carcinogenic compounds in alcoholic beverages. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2016. .Accessed 13 June 2022. Available form

  9. Alcohol Tied to 750,000 Cancer Cases Worldwide in 2020. National Cancer Institute. 2021.Accessed 13 June 2022. Available form   

  10. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2010. .Accessed on 14 June 2022. Available from

  11. Salt and sugar. Cancer Council. 2022. Accessed on 14 June 2022.Available from