Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention

umbrellaRisk Factors for Cancer
All cancers have causes or risk factors associated with them. Here are nine major factors that cause different types of cancer:

  • Tobacco*
  • Alcohol (especially when combined with tobacco)*
  • Diet*
  • Some bacterial infections
  • Some viral infections
  • Sun exposure*
  • Occupation (if exposed to radiation, asbestos, silicon, dusts, etc.)*
  • Medication (radiation and/or drugs used to treat one cancer can cause later cancers)
  • Genetics (related to family history)

*These are all lifestyle risk factors that you can control. Reducing or eliminating unhealthy exposures is the best cancer prevention. If you have a high-risk job or lifestyle, talk with your health care provider for advice on how to make lifestyle changes to improve your health and decrease your chances of developing cancer.

Recommendations for Cancer Prevention
These ten recommendations for cancer prevention are drawn from the WCRF/AICR Second Expert Report. Each recommendation links to more details.

  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
  5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
  7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
  8. Don't use supplements to protect against cancer.
  9. It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods.
  10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow these recommendations for cancer prevention.

And always remember – don’t smoke or chew tobacco.







  • St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute