AICR's Guidelines for Cancer Survivors


For a cancer survivor, healthy foods supply the body with energy and nutrients for repair and healing. A good diet may also help protect the body from cancer recurrence or a secondary cancer.

The recommendation from the AICR 2007 expert report states, “once treatment has ended, cancer survivors should adopt the panel’s recommendations for cancer prevention.”

Understanding the Diet-Cancer Connection

Over the last 25 years, science has demonstrated that diet, physical activity and weight are major factors influencing the development of cancer. A healthful diet – one high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans; low in red and (especially) processed meat – can fight cancer at several stages and in different ways.

  1. Helps defend the body against cancer. An overall consistent pattern of healthy eating provides plenty of nutrients to strengthen the body’s defenses.
  2. Provides potential power to defuse potential carcinogens. Phytochemicals (phyto = plant) and other naturally occurring plant substances prevent cellular damage.
  3. Delays cancer progression. Several dietary components have been shown to slow the cancer process, allowing the body more time to defend itself.

Diet Tips

  • Set goals for healthy eating that will help you achieve and stay at a weight that your doctor says is healthy for you. Talk to your physician about what a healthy weight would be for you. Once you have determined what are good goals for you, think in terms of small steps. This is often the most successful strategy to improve eating and to achieve a healthy weight.
  • Fill up your plate with more plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans should cover at least 2/3 of your plate and animal foods 1/3 or less. Choose fish and poultry more often and red meat only occasionally. Avoid processed meat.
  • Include a variety of colorful produce every day. The more colors, the more protective nutrients. Try dark leafy greens, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupes, and green, yellow and red peppers for example.

If you have eating and nutrition challenges caused by your treatments, a registered dietitian can help you design a plan appropriate for your needs.


ICON: Diet
Excerpted from AICR’s Nutrition and the Cancer Survivor, and Nutrition of the Cancer Patient. You can read the full texts of the brochures online.