Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

Publication Date: June 1, 2020
Last Updated: March 14, 2022

Recommendations for individuals

Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight throughout life.
  • Keep body weight within the healthy range and avoid weight gain in adult life.

Be physically active.
  • Adults should engage in 150-300 min of moderate-intensity physical activity per wk, or 75-150 min of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent
  • combination; achieving or exceeding the upper limit of 300 min is optimal.
  • Children and adolescents should engage in at least 1 hr of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day.
  • Limit sedentary behavior, such as sitting, lying down, and watching television, and other forms of screen-based entertainment.

Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages.
  • A healthy eating pattern includes:
◦ Foods that are high in nutrients in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight;
◦ A variety of vegetables—dark green, red, and orange, fiber-rich legumes (beans and peas), and others;
◦ Fruits, especially whole fruits with a variety of colors; and
◦ Whole grains.
  • A healthy eating pattern limits or does not include:
◦ Red and processed meats;
◦ Sugar-sweetened beverages; or
◦ Highly processed foods and refined grain products.

It is best not to drink alcohol. • People who do choose to drink alcohol should limit their consumption to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

Recommendation for Community Action

Public, private, and community organizations should work collaboratively at national, state, and local levels to develop, advocate for, and implement policy and environmental changes that increase access to affordable, nutritious foods; provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible opportunities for physical activity; and limit alcohol for all individuals.

Recommendation Grading



Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

Authoring Organization

Publication Month/Year

June 1, 2020

Last Updated Month/Year

February 5, 2024

Document Type


External Publication Status


Country of Publication


Inclusion Criteria

Female, Male, Adolescent, Adult, Child, Infant, Older adult

Health Care Settings

Ambulatory, Hospital, Outpatient

Intended Users

Dietician nutritionist, nurse, nurse practitioner, physician, physician assistant


Prevention, Management

Diseases/Conditions (MeSH)

D055088 - Early Detection of Cancer, D004032 - Diet


Gluten‐Free Diet, Irradiated Foods, cancer prevention

Source Citation

Rock CL, Thomson C, Gansler T, Gapstur SM, McCullough ML, Patel AV, Andrews KS, Bandera EV, Spees CK, Robien K, Hartman S, Sullivan K, Grant BL, Hamilton KK, Kushi LH, Caan BJ, Kibbe D, Black JD, Wiedt TL, McMahon C, Sloan K, Doyle C. American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA Cancer J Clin. 2020 Jul;70(4):245-271. doi: 10.3322/caac.21591. Epub 2020 Jun 9. PMID: 32515498.