Adherence to World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)/American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) dietary recommendations is associated with lower risk of cancer among older adults, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.1

The WCRF and AICR propose the following 10 recommendations for cancer prevention:

  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. Breastfeeding exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods is best
  10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Because whether dietary recommendations for cancer prevention are applicable to older adults is unclear, researchers sought to examine the incidence of cancer in older adults who adhere to the WCRF/AICR dietary recommendations.

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For the study, investigators analyzed data from 362,114 persons age 60 years and older included in 7 prospective cohort studies who were free from cancer at the time of enrollment. Researchers calculated a WCFR/AICR diet score for each patient based on consumption of energy-dense foods and sugary drinks, plant foods, red and processed meat, and alcoholic drinks. 

After a median follow-up of 11 to 15 years across cohorts, results showed that 69,708 cases of cancer were reported. Researchers found that each 1-point increase in the WCRF/AICR diet score, with 0 being nonadherent and 4 being completely adherent, was significantly associated with a 6% reduction in the risk of developing any cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 0.94; 95% CI, 0.92-0.97).

In addition, each 1-point increase was significantly associated with a 16% reduced risk of colorectal cancer (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.80-0.89) and a 6% reduced risk of prostate cancer (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.92-0.97); however, there was no association between diet score and the risk of breast or lung cancer.

The study further demonstrated that adherence to an additional component of the WCRF/AICR diet score significantly delayed the time to developing cancer at any site by 1.6 years.


1. Jankovic N, Geelen A, Winkels RM, et al. Adherence to the WCRF/AICR dietary recommendations for cancer prevention and risk of cancer in elderly from Europe and the United States: A meta-analysis within the CHANCES project. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 Oct 28. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0428. [Epub ahead of print]