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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Healthy Eating and Cancer

Did you know? About 1/3 of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, being active and having a healthy weight.1 There is a link between diet, a healthy weight and many cancers, including esophagus, colorectal, breast and kidney cancer. Healthy eating habits that reduce the risk of these cancers also lower the risk of heart disease.2

Top 5 Tips

  1. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  2. Follow Canada’s Food Guide and eat lots of plant foods rich in fibre3
    • Fill ½ your plate with vegetables and fruit
    • Choose whole grains (e.g., quinoa, bulgar, oats, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread)
    • Choose meat alternatives more often including beans, peas and lentils
    • Eat no more than 500g (18oz) red meat each week (e.g., beef, pork, lamb, goat)3
  3. Choose unsaturated fats instead of saturated and trans fats4
    • Eat a small amount of unsaturated fat with each meal, about 2-3 tbsp each day5
    • Choose avocados, nuts and seeds
    • Choose soft non-hydrogenated margarines and vegetable oils (e.g., canola, olive)
  4. Eat very little, if any, processed meat3
    • Processed meat is meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting (e.g., hot dogs, lunch meat, sausage, bacon, ham)
  5. Limit foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar or salt3
    • Choose fast foods, convenience foods and processed foods less often
    • Make homemade meals more often
    • Choose no or low calorie drinks more often (e.g., water with fruit slices)

Aim to meet your vitamin and mineral needs through diet.3 Antioxidant supplements (e.g., beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium) have not been shown to protect against developing cancer. Vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.6

Date of creation: March 3, 2013
Last modified on: May 29, 2018


1Canadian Cancer Society. (2013). Nutrition and fitness. Retrieved from
2World Health Organization. (2013). Cancer prevention. Retrieved from
3World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. (2007). Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: A global perspective. Washington, DC: AICR. (2018). Lowering Your Risk of Cancer. Retrieved from
5Health Canada. (2013). Eating well with Canada's food guide. Retrieved from
6Dietitians of Canada. (2012). Nutrition, healthy eating and cancer. Retrieved from,-Healthy-Eating-and-Cancer.aspx