Food Intake and Cancer

Almost 10 million people die because of cancer annually. Cancer is predicted to be the leading cause of death worldwide by the end of this century.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the food and drink we consume, our activity levels and our weight can all contribute to our risk to cancer.

Diet-related factors associated with an increased risk of cancer:

  • Red and processed meat increase the risk of colorectal cancer
  • Cantonese-style salted fish increases the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks increase the risk of many sites of cancer (e.g., mouth, pharynx, stomach, pancreas, liver)

Diet-related factors associated with a decreased risk of cancer:

  • A healthy diet including whole grains, dietary fibre, vegetables, fruits, nuts and pulses can prevent the risk of cancer.
  • Dairy products have also been found to limit the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight and being physically active are also important to reduce the risk of cancer.

Cancer prevention recommendations by World Cancer Research Fund

This material has been reproduced from the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective. Continuous Update Project Expert Report 2018. Available at