Policies and Actions for Cancer Prevention: Food, Nutrition and Physical Activity

Kirsty Beck*, 1, Rachel L. Thompson1, Kate Allen1, Martin Wiseman1, Michael Marmot2
1 World Cancer Research Fund International, London, UK
2 University College London, UK

© 2010 Beck et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the World Cancer Research Fund International, 19 Harley Street, W1G 9QJ, London; Tel: +44 (0) 20 7343 4200; Fax: +44 (0) 20 7343 4220; E-mail:


The 2009 World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Report 'Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention' addresses the external influences on people's eating and physical activity habits over a lifetime, and evaluates possible actions to change these behaviours.

Estimates of preventability of cancer were calculated for USA, UK, Brazil and China. The estimates suggest that about 11 and 20 per cent of obesity-related cancers could be prevented, if everyone had a healthy weight.

The Report makes 48 recommendations, all with some relevance to overweight and obesity, for policies and actions to create environments which are conducive to healthy behaviours, thereby reducing risk of cancer directly, and indirectly through obesity. The recommendations are addressed to nine groups of actors—those people who take decisions or make policy at all levels. These groups are multinational bodies, civil society organisations, government, industry, media, schools, workplaces and institutions, health and other professionals, and people (as members of families and communities). All actors have a responsibility to give priority to public health, including prevention of obesity and cancer. Leadership is required from governments in particular to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach. All relevant actors need to work together so that initiatives are more likely to be successful and have lasting impact. The Report is intended as a starting point and a spur to action.

Keywords: Cancer, nutrition, physical activity, policy, prevention.