A stunning new study has revealed the 10 crucial lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of cancer by 70 per cent.
Breastfeed, avoid certain supplements, and eat no more than three servings of red meat per week.
Also on the list (below) are exercising 2.5 hours a week, avoiding sugary drinks, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting junk food.
Unfortunately for alcohol abusers, quitting alcohol completely is another step in the fight against cancer.
The research was undertaken to analyze the validity of a previous set of 10 similar recommendations developed by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
During breastfeeding, the menstrual cycle is irregular – this reduces the amount of sex hormone estrogen the body is exposed to over a lifetime. Excess estrogen has been linked to an increased risk of cancer
Researchers from Newcastle University in the UK tested the guidelines on people from Britain, using data from 94,778 adults with an average age of 56.
They used subjective data on diet and exercise, as well as participants’ body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference measurements.
Each participant was scored on how well they adhered to the recommendations out of seven.
They also used cancer registry data to track cancer diagnoses over the eight-year study period.
They controlled for age, sex, socioeconomic deprivation, ethnicity, and smoking status in their analyses.
On average, participants scored 3.8 out of seven for adherence to recommendations.
About 7,296 participants (eight percent) developed cancer during the study.
The researchers found that greater adherence to the suggestions led to a lower risk of cancer.
For every recommendation patients adhered to, their cancer risk decreased by seven percent.
They also found that each one-point increase in adherence score was associated with a 10% lower risk of breast cancer, a 10% lower risk of colorectal cancer, a 18% lower risk of kidney cancer, and a 16% lower risk of esophageal cancer. The risk of liver cancer was reduced by 22 percent, the risk of ovarian cancer was reduced by 24 percent, and the risk of gallbladder cancer was reduced by 30 percent.
People with a score of 4.5 or higher had a 16% lower risk of developing all cancers combined, compared with those with an adherence score of 3.5 points or lower.
Perhaps one of the most surprising recommendations is breastfeeding.
Researchers suggest that protection may be due to hormonal changes that occur during breastfeeding.
During breastfeeding, the menstrual cycle is irregular – this reduces the amount of sex hormone estrogen the body is exposed to over a lifetime.
Excess estrogen has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Meanwhile, fast food is linked to cancer because eating it in large quantities makes you more likely to gain weight. Excess weight can lead to a range of hormonal changes that can cause tumors to grow.
Red and processed meats contain compounds such as heme and nitrates, which when broken down in the body form compounds that can damage the cells lining the intestines, increasing the possibility of cancer.
The ten recommendations for cancer prevention include avoiding red meat and alcohol, exercising at least two hours a week, and breastfeeding if possible.
As for alcohol: it decomposes into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which can lead to DNA damage linked to a group of cancers.
There is also no evidence that taking supplements to prevent cancer has any benefit, and according to the WCRI, people should aim to get nutrients from their food and drink alone.
Cancer nutritionist Nicole Andrews previously said: “If you take more than 200% of the daily value of a group of supplements that you do not need, they become free radicals and increase your risk of cancer.”
The researchers stressed that because their study is observational, they do not know for sure that the reduced cancer risk was due to adherence to the 10 recommendations.
The results were published in the journal BMC Medicine.