Cancer and lifestyle factors

February 2017

Only approximately 15% of cancers have a genetic cause .

Many patients who are not predisposed to cancer genetically could probably avoid the disease by modifying their daily lifestyle.

Many experts estimate that the evolution of our way of life and our environment in the last few decades, contributes to the increase in cancer rates.

Better sleep, relaxation, reduced stress, regular physical activity and more balanced nutrition may contribute to limit the risks of developing cancer.

22 worldwide scientific experts studied 7000 patients over 5 years and published a report on behalf of the World Cancer Research Fund, WCRF, in November 2007 on lifestyle measures to avoid cancer.

For example, excess weight is a risk factor for developing colorectal, oesophagus, kidney, endometrial, pancreatic and breast cancer after the menopause.

10 recommendations to fight cancer


According to a study published in 2002 by World Cancer Research Fund International new cases of cancer could be avoided by modifying your lifestyle in addition to stopping smoking:

  • Do 30 minutes of physical activity every day
  • Try to maintaining a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 20 and 25 (preferably 21 to 23)
  • Avoid sweet drinks
  • Limit your intake of high calorie food, avoiding those with a high percentage of added sugar or fat content, or low in fibre
  • Increase your consumption of fruits, whole cereals and vegetables, ensuring you have 400 grams of these per day at least
  • Limit fatty red meats (beef, pork, lamb) to 500 grams per week and avoid cured, smoked and salted meats
  • Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men
  • Restrict salted food and products containing added salt, such as crisps and peanuts
  • Do not take food supplements
  • Mothers should breastfeed exclusively during the first six months

Anti-cancer food


Nutratherapy is a recent discipline which advises on foods which decrease the risks of appearance of cancer.

Dr. R Béliveau is a professor at the University of Quebec and believes that certain foods contain molecules which maintain tumours in a latent state and prevent them from developing into cancer.

These include:
  • Green tea: decreases the risk of colorectal, bladder and prostate cancer
  • Soya, cabbages and broccoli : decrease breast cancer risk
  • Carrots: reduce the chances of developing ENT cancer
  • Garlic: protects from digestive cancers
  • Turmeric : a spice which decreases the risk of skin and digestive cancer. Turmeric sauce can be prepared with olive oil and black pepper to be used in many preparations (vegetables, meat etc)
  • Food containing betacarotene or vitamin C (sweet pepper, kiwi, blackcurrant, broccoli, orange) have a protective effect against oesophagus cancer.
  • Garden peas, lentils, and spinach are rich in folic acid and protect from pancreatic cancer

Physical activity in cancer


The absence or the lack of physical activity can influence your development of the disease as well as recovery.

In his book "Anticancer", Dr David Servan-Schreiber recommends the practice of a physical activity as a basic element for a fighting the disease and avoiding the risk of relapse.

The physical activity recommended depends on your kind of cancer.

For further information, you can read "Anticancer: A New Way of Life" by Dr David Servan-Schreiber, published by Viking Adult.

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