Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Cancer and Diet

  • Akihiro TokoroEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_382



A field in which the relationship between cancer and diet is examined from the interdisciplinary perspectives of basic medicine, clinical epidemiology, preventive medicine, and behavioral medicine.


The relationship between diet and cancer has recently been recognized as an area of scientific interest. Dietary factors are thought to be involved in 30% of cases of cancer in developed countries and in 20% in developing countries (Marian, 2010).

In 2004, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced a goal of achieving prophylactic intervention for cancer prevention, with a focus placed on reduction of tobacco use, control of obesity, cancer-causing infections, and environmental carcinogens (Lippman & Bernard, 2004).

A WHO report (http://www.who.int/gho/en/) showed that 35% of adults aged ≥20 years old worldwide were overweight (body mass index [BMI]: ≥25 kg/m2) and 12% were obese (BMI: ≥30 kg/m2) in 2008. The rate of obesity has more than doubled since 1980.

Previous studies have suggested that unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity can affect the development and prognosis of some cancers, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Research into the details of the association of diet with development of cancer is limited. However, a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2002 showed that being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of cancer in both men and women (International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 2002).

Based on these data, the American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines (American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/content/vol56/issue5/) recommend:
  1. 1.

    Maintenance of a healthy weight throughout life

  2. 2.

    Adoption of a physically active lifestyle

  3. 3.

    Consumption of a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources

  4. 4.

    Limited consumption of alcoholic beverages


Further research is required to examine the relationship between single dietary factors and development or progression of cancer and between health behaviors, including dietary lifestyle, and cancer.


References and Readings

  1. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/content/vol56/issue5/
  2. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). (2002). Weight control and physical activity. In H. Vanio & F. Biaciani (Eds.), IARC handbooks of cancer preventive effects. Lyons: IARC Press.Google Scholar
  3. Lippman, S. M., & Bernard, L. (2004). Cancer prevention and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 22(19), 3848–3851.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Marian, L. (2010). Diet and cancer. In Psycho-Oncology(2nd ed., pp. 22–27). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychosomatic MedicineNational Hospital Organization, Kinki-Chuo Chest Medical CenterSakai OsakaJapan