Cancer risk factors

The food and drink we consume, our activity levels and our weight all influence our risk of cancer – these are all what we call exposures, or simply risk factors. Read our evidence about how our daily lifestyle makes a difference and the things can both increase or reduce your risk of cancer.

Wholegrains, vegetables and fruit

Our strong evidence on how consuming wholegrains and foods containing fibre decreases the risk of cancer

Understand the research

Meat, fish and dairy products

Learn about findings on red and processed meat, fish and dairy products and their impact on the risk of cancer

How does this make a difference?

Preservation and processing

Preservation and processing methods affect foods’ nutritional value as well as their potential to be capable of causing cancer

How cooking methods make a difference

Non-alcoholic drinks

The impact of drinks such as water, tea, coffee and mate on cancer risk are less commonly known – read our findings

Understand the research

Alcoholic drinks

Evidence shows that, in general, the more alcoholic drinks people consume, the higher the risk of many cancers

Why alcohol is harmful

Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients

Certain supplements can have a significant impact on your cancer risk

What's the evidence?

Physical activity

There is strong evidence that being physically active decreases the risk of colorectal and other cancers

Understand the risks

Obesity and weight gain

Excess weight and obesity have been linked to 13 cancers, including some of the most common types

The affect of body fatness

Height and birthweight

Developmental factors leading to greater height in adulthood increase the risk of some cancers

What's the evidence?

Lactation (breastfeeding)

Breastfeeding (lactation) has important benefits for both mother and baby

Read the research

What is cancer?

Read the evidence on how diet, nutrition and physical activity can influence how cancer grows and develops

What are the reasons?

Our recommendations

What should you do to reduce your risk of cancer? We’ve identified 10 recommendations

Prevent it