Reducing Risks

Cancer can be caused by a number of factors including lifestyle choices, genetics and the environment. The following information highlights various cancers associated with different behaviours and what you can do to help reduce your risk.

Healthy Eating

Cancers associated with a poor diet include: colon, lung, stomach, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, breast, laryngeal and bladder. Poor diet may also be linked to prostate cancer.

What You Can Do:  Eat 5 - 10 servings of vegetables and fruit every day.

Physical Activity

Cancers associated with inactivity include: colorectal and possibly breast and prostate cancer.

What You Can Do:  Be active! Get 30-45 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days of the week.

Healthy Body Weight

Cancers associated with being overweight include: cancer of the uterus and possibly cancer of the breast and kidney.

What You Can Do:  Maintain a healthy body weight. Aim for a Body Mass Index (BMI) that's between 20 - 25. Health Canada has a BMI calculator you can try.

Live Smoke Free

Cancers associated with tobacco use include: lung, bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach, cervix, mouth, esophagus, larynx, and acute myeloid leukemia. Tobacco use may also be linked with breast, skin, liver and colorectal cancer.

What You Can Do:  Be a non-smoker, reduce your exposure to second-hand smoke and do not chew tobacco.

Reduce Exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation

Cancer associated with too much sun exposure is skin cancer.

What You Can Do:  Avoid the sun from 11 am - 4 pm. If you must be out in the sun, wear a hat, sunglasses, long sleeves and pants.

Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 with UVA/UVB protection. Avoid tanning beds or sun lamps. See the section on Skin Cancer for more information.


Cancers associated with excessive alcohol use include: mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus and liver. Excessive alcohol use is also a probable link to breast and colorectal cancers.

What You Can Do:  If you don't drink, don't start. If you do drink alcohol, limit your intake to 1-2 drinks/day.

No more than nine per week for women and 14 per week for men.

If you drink, drink slowly, wait at least one hour between drinks and drink alcohol with food.

Safer Sex

Cancers associated with unsafe sex: cervical, liver, rectal and genital.

What You Can Do:  Practice safe sex, limit the number of partners in your life-time and use condoms.