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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bosch PhD RDN LDN

2020 American Cancer Society Guidelines for Cancer Prevention

Move More, Sit Less: Adults should engage in 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week; achieving or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is optimal. Children and adolescents should engage in at least 1 hr of moderate or vigorous‐intensity activity each day. The most significant reduction in cancer risk occurs when people change from no physical activity to any amount. The bottom line is, move more, and sit less. 

Eat More Plants: Focus on a variety of colored fruits and vegetables, and enjoy fiber-rich beans, legumes, and whole grains.

Limit or Avoid Red and Processed Meat: For decades, health experts have been recommending to limit or avoid red and processed meat. The latest guidelines for cancer prevention reinforce these findings. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb are the most commonly consumed red meat sources in the United States. Processed meat includes meat that has been flavor-enhanced, cured, smoked, salted, fermented, or has gone through other preservation processes. Examples of processed meat include bacon, sausage, ham, bologna, hot dogs, and deli meats. 

Drink Mostly Water and Unsweetened Drinks: Sugar, corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, and other forms of sugar added to beverages contribute to weight gain and increase cancer risk. The new recommendations highlight the importance of limiting or avoiding sugar-sweetened drinks and replacing them with more water. 

Limit Consumption of Processed Foods: Highly processed foods include industrially produced grain-based desserts, ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat foods, snack foods, candy, and other processed foods. While peeling, cutting, and freezing fresh vegetables and fruit is technically a form of processing, these foods still retain their nutrients when prepared this way and aren't included in the recommendation of limiting processed foods. When referring to the topic of processed foods, it's crucial to take into consideration the type of processing. 

Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Body Weight: Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight throughout life. In today's weight-obsessed culture, what does "healthy body weight" even mean? For adults, healthy body weight is defined as the appropriate body weight in relation to height. This ratio of weight-to-height is known as the body mass index (BMI). Work with Bosch Nutrition to determine how to reach and maintain a healthy weight based on your body. 

Best Not to Drink Alcohol: In 2020, the recommendations changed from "if you drink alcohol, limit consumption" to "it is best not to drink alcohol." People who choose to drink alcohol should limit it to no more than one drink per day for women and men. 

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