Updated American Cancer Society nutrition guidelines stress need for supportive environment

January 11, 2012

ATLANTA -January 11, 2012- Updated guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention from the American Cancer Society stress the importance of creating social and physical environments that support healthy behaviors. The report includes updated recommendations for individual choices regarding diet and physical activity patterns, but emphasizes that those choices occur within a community context that can either help or hinder healthy behaviors.

The updated guidelines include recommendations for community action to accompany the four major recommendations for individual choices to reduce cancer risk, saying a supportive social and physical environment is indispensable if all Americans are to have genuine opportunities to choose and maintain healthy behaviors.

The American Cancer Society publishes its Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention to serve as a foundation for its communication, policy, and community strategies and, ultimately, to affect dietary and physical activity patterns among Americans. The guidelines, published about every five years, are developed by a national panel of experts in cancer research, prevention, epidemiology, public health, and policy, and reflect the most current scientific evidence related to dietary and activity patterns and cancer risk. They were last updated in 2006.

The guidelines include four major recommendations, each of which includes several supporting recommendations.

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life Adopt a physically active lifestyle Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption The authors of the report say the tobacco control experience showed that policy and environmental changes at national, state and local levels are critical to achieving changes in individual behavior. They say similar purposeful changes in public policy and in the community environment are required to help individuals maintain a healthy body weight and remain physically active throughout life. In that vein, the Guidelines also include recommendations for community action:

Public, private, and community organizations should work collaboratively at national, state, and local levels to implement policy and environmental changes that: "Our guidelines have always stressed what people can do themselves to lower their risk of cancer, and that's important," said Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, director of nutrition and physical activity, and co-author of the report. "But we must also take public action to make those behaviors easier for all Americans. We can't just tell people to eat more fruits and vegetables and get more exercise when there are so many forces working against them being able to do that easily, and on a regular basis.

"We've got to work together to ensure that worksites and schools have healthy food options; that our neighborhoods are designed so that our children can safely ride their bikes or walk to school; that people have the information they need to help them make healthier food choices, whether at the grocery store or when eating out.

"The environments in which we live, work, learn and play have a tremendous impact on our ability to make and sustain healthy lifestyle choices. So if we're not working to change those environments so that the healthier choice is the easier choice, we're missing the boat."

The report also reviews the evidence on diet and physical activity factors that affect risks for select cancers, as well as a section on common questions about diet, physical activity and cancer; from coffee and dietary supplements to garlic, fiber, and irradiated foods.
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The report can be viewed at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.20140/full

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation's largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

American Cancer Society

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