Poor Diet Cited as a Cause of Cancer for First Time by Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

Statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) President Chris Hansen

February 19, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- February 19, 2015 -- The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee today issued recommendations for updating national guidelines for healthy eating that finally recognize poor diet can cause cancer.

For the first time, the committee examined breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers as health outcomes directly influenced by poor diet, overweight and obesity despite well-established evidence on the link. For most Americans who do not use tobacco, the most important cancer risk factors that can be changed are body weight, diet and physical activity.

In addition to advising individuals and families on how to live healthy lives, the government's dietary guidelines provide the basis for federal nutrition assistance and education programs and guide communities on how to create opportunities for healthy eating and active living.

The American Cancer Society has been issuing nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention since 1984, and released nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors in 2012. In accordance with the Society's guidelines, the committee recommends that the dietary guidelines advise Americans to significantly reduce red and processed meat consumption, which when eaten regularly increase colorectal and prostate cancer risk. The committee also suggests that the dietary guidelines recommend individuals limit their added sugar consumption to 10 percent of daily calories.

ACS CAN commends the committee for considering environmental and policy-based approaches that influence diet and physical activity. The report recommends reducing portion sizes in restaurants, implementing strong workplace wellness programs and enacting school nutrition policies. As Congress prepares to reauthorize the child nutrition programs, we need updated science-based dietary guidelines to ensure that the nutrition standards for school meals -- already in place in 90 percent of school districts -- continue to be based on the best available evidence.

It is now incumbent upon the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) to accept and implement the committee's recommendations in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Consumers deserve the best guidance available to support them in making healthy food and beverage choices and ultimately help reduce their cancer risk.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visitξ


Lauren Walens or Steven Weiss

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Phone: (202) 661-5763 or (202) 661-5711

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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