Following seven healthy lifestyle recommendations from the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) can reduce the risk of cancer, a new study has revealed.

The recommendations made by WCRF/AICR in 2018 included a package of healthy lifestyle choices that together could have an enormous impact on a person's likelihood of developing cancer and other non-communicable diseases over their lifetime.

The study, published in BMC Medicine, found that greater adherence to lifestyle-based recommendations was associated with reduced overall cancer risk, as well as the risk of breast, colorectal, kidney, esophageal, ovarian, liver, and gallbladder cancers.

Here are the seven WCRF/AICR recommendations:

  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Be physically active
  • Eat a better diet
  • Limit consumption of fast food and processed food
  • Limit red and processed meat
  • Cut down on sweetened drinks
  • Limit alcohol intake

The team evaluated the relationship between adherence to the WCRF/AICR recommendations and cancer risk by analyzing 94,778 adults from the U.K. Biobank data. The participants were 56 years old on average.

The dietary and physical activity data of the participants were collected, along with their body mass index and waist circumference measurements. The level of adherence to the recommendations was measured out of a maximum score of 7 points. The participants had an average adherence score of 3.8 points.

The incidence of new cancers in the participants was collected from cancer registry data. Around 8% of participants (7,296) developed cancer during the study period.

The analysis showed that with each point increase in adherence score, the cancer risk was reduced by 7%. Participants with higher adherence scores (4.5 points or above) had a 16% lower overall cancer risk.

With each 1-point increase in adherence score, the breast cancer risk is reduced by 10%, colorectal cancer by 10%, kidney cancer by 18%, esophageal cancer by 16%, liver cancer by 22%, ovarian cancer by 24%, and risk of gallbladder cancer by 30%.

However, since the study is observational, it does not provide a causal relationship between adherence to WCRF/AICR recommendation and cancer risk. Researchers said further studies are required to understand which recommendation is driving the link between the factors.