How to Prevent Cancer Through Diet and Exercise, Screening Guidelines and Clinical Trials

Diet and Exercise

One in three cancer deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity and being overweight. By making lifestyle changes and taking a stand for your own health, you can reduce your risk of several types of cancer. Click here are a few simple prevention tips to help you get started.

Diet Tips from Dr. Mark Hyman

Don’t Eat:

  • Refined sugar & flour products: The single biggest thing you can do to avoid the most common cancers (breast, prostate, colon, pancreatic, kidney and liver) is to cut out liquid sugar calories, ALL sugar-sweetened beverages, which make up 15% of our overall calories. The next thing to work on: cut out or dramatically reduce flour products.
  • Reduce saturated fat (animal fat), and eliminate hydrogenated fat (margarine, shortening, processed foods) and all refined oils (corn, safflower)
  • Replace red meat with vegetables: This will lower your risk of colon cancer.
  • Charcoal-burned food or smoked oil: These contain carcinogens.
  • Nitrates: These are found in processed meats or deli meats.

Do Eat

  • Anti-cancer foods: Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, collards, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage) and dark leafy greens contain the cancer fighter vitamin called folate. Other anti-cancer foods include soy foods, flax seeds, green tea, garlic and onions.
  • Fruits & veggies at least 5-9 servings a day (color and variety for maximum antioxidants and phytochemicals)
  • Shitake & maitake mushrooms: They contain anti-cancer compounds and immune boosters
  • Use only extra virgin olive oil and cold pressed or unrefined sesame or grape seed oils
  • Fiber: Found in beans, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, high fiber intake reduces gut carcinogens
  • Flax: Flaxseeds contain two cancer-preventive compounds: omega 3 fatty acids and lignans, which may reduce the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. Ground flaxseeds, because they contain both the fiber and the oil, have more potent anticancer properties than flax oil alone. Cancer researchers suggest 25 grams of ground flaxseeds a day. You can grind your own in a coffee grinder or purchase pre-ground flaxseed meal, which mixes well in smoothies or sprinkled like bran flakes over yogurt and cereal. Try 2 tablespoons at breakfast.
  • Eat organic: Try eating organic produce and animal products whenever possible to avoid cancer-causing pesticides and hormones. Visit for guides to the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” fruits and vegetables, plus the meat eater’s guide to choose your meat wisely.
  • Garlic: Try to eat a clove of garlic at least once a week, as well as other members of the onion family. They contain cancer-fighting compounds as well as substances that prevent nitrites from becoming cancer-causing nitrosamines.
  • Fish & seafood: They contain a type of fat (omega 3 fats) that may reduce your risk of colon and breast cancer!
  • Filtered water: Reverse osmosis filter is the best to avoid contaminants such as chemicals, drugs and hormones in the water supply

Exercise Tips from Dr. Mark Hyman

  • Make smart moves.
  • Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, even if it’s just a brisk walk.
  • Exercise decreases bowel transit time, reducing the chances that carcinogens in your stool will affect your intestines. You’ll also reduce your insulin levels, which may inhibit tumor growth.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are research studies that involve people — the final step in a lengthy process that evaluates the safety and efficacy of a potential treatment that begins in the laboratory. They are critical to developing new methods to prevent, detect, and treat cancer. Through clinical trials, researchers can determine whether new therapies are safe and effective and work better than currently available treatments.

When patients participate in clinical trials, they add to overall knowledge about cancer and help improve cancer care.

Click here to find cancer clinical trials.

To learn more about clinical trials, visit

Family History Screening Guidelines

According to the National Cancer Institute, some types of cancer can be found before they cause symptoms. Checking for cancer – or for conditions that may lead to cancer – in people who have no symptoms is called screening. Screening can help doctors find and treat some types of cancer early. Generally, cancer treatment is more effective when the disease is found early. However, not all types of cancer have screening tests (and some tests are only for people with specific genetic risks).

Click here for the American Cancer Society’s guidelines on how often you should be screened for different cancers and when you should start.

Watch the video on what you should know about family history screening guidelines:

What steps are YOU taking to prevent cancer for you & your family?