In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) released a report titled "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective." This report reflects the findings of approximately 7,000 studies that looked at links between food, nutrition, physical activity and cancer risk. Based on this large body of research, the experts who wrote this report identified eight general recommendations on how people can reduce their cancer risk.

WCRF/AICR recommendations for cancer prevention for the general population

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight (Body Mass Index within the normal range).
  2. Enjoy moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks. Eat foods that are high in calories and fat and low in fibre less often.

  4. Eat mostly plant foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, such as beans).
  5. Limit intake of red meats (pork, beef and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  6. If consumed, limit daily alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women.

  7. Limit intake of salt; do not eat mouldy grains or legumes.

  8. Meet your nutrient needs through diet, rather than supplements.

What are the links between these recommendations and breast cancer risk?

  • Alcohol intake increases breast cancer risk in adult women
  • Excess body fat:
    • Increases breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women
    • Decreases breast cancer risk in pre-menopausal women
  • Excess abdominal fat may increase breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women
  • Weight gain during adulthood may increase breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women
  • Higher levels of physical activity may decrease breast cancer risk in post- menopausal women

The bottom line

The three guidelines below capture all eight of the AICR/WCRF recommendations for cancer prevention. Following any one of these guidelines will help to reduce your cancer risk including breast cancer, but following all three may reduce your risk of the most common cancers by up to 1/3.

1. Eat mostly plant foods, limit red meat, avoid processed meat and alcohol

2. Be physically active for 30 minutes or more daily

3. Stay at a healthy weight throughout your life


An image demostrating the WCRF AICR guidelines for cancer prevention for teh general population, 2007. It shows healthy weight, plant-based diet, and daily physical activity overlapping in a venn diagram, with cancer prevention being the result.

Eat mostly plant foods, be physically active every day, and maintain a healthy weight

throughout your life to reduce your cancer risk