Cancer Council Australia

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Nutrition and physical activity

Evidence shows that being overweight, having a poor diet, drinking alcohol and doing little or no exercise all increase your risk of developing certain cancers.

Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity also cause type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, arthritis and falls, accounting for nearly 20% of all disease and injury in Australia today.

 Explore this section:

Body weight

Find out how your body weight can affect your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
More about body weight

Food and nutrition

Find out how your diet can reduce or increase your risk of cancer.
More about food and nutrition

Physical activity

Being physically inactive can increase your risk of developing cancer.
More about physical activity


Find out how drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing cancer.
More about alcohol

Cancer patients and diets

Learn how to eat well while going through cancer treatment
More about cancer patients and diets

National Secondary Students' Diet and Activity (NaSSDA) survey

The NaSSDA survey is conducted to help fill the significant gap in data on obesity, diet and physical activity in secondary school students at both a state and national level.
More about national secondary students' diet and activity (nassda) survey

Cancer Council's recommendations

Cancer Council Australia makes the following recommendations for nutrition and physical activity in support of the Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults and the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians:

  • maintain a healthy body weight (BMI of 18.5 ? 25)
  • do regular physical exercise:
    • 30 minutes of moderate activity a day for general good health
    • 60 minutes a day, including some vigorous intensity exercise, to reduce cancer risk
  • maintain a healthy, balanced diet:
    • eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruit - five or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruit per day
    • have cereals (preferably wholegrain) - between three and 12 servings each day, depending on age and gender
    • eat meat in moderation - no more than three to four servings of, lean red meat each week and avoid processed meats
    • select lower fat foods like lean meat and reduced-fat dairy products, and try using low-fat cooking methods like grilling instead of frying
    • choose low-salt products - flavour foods with herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Limit yourself to two standard drinks a day (as recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council).

More information about these recommendations are available in Cancer Council's preventing cancer lifestyle fact sheets.

This page was last updated on: Tuesday, December 4, 2018

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