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Healthy living can help prevent cancer. You may wonder how much difference changing your lifestyle can really make, but it can make a big difference. By choosing a healthy lifestyle, you can lower your risk of getting cancer. Healthy living can prevent about 50% of all cancers.

Learn more about reducing your risk of cancer through healthy living.

Smoking and Tobacco

Being a non-smoker is the most important thing you can do to protect both your own health and your family’s (by protecting them from the risks of second-hand smoke). It’s never too late to stop smoking.

In Canada, smoking contributes to about 30% of all cancer deaths and is responsible for more than 85% of all cases of lung cancer. Quit smoking now to lower your risk of getting cancer.

  • Smoking more, and for more years, can greatly increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Quitting cuts your risk of dying from lung cancer in half within 10 years of stopping.
  • Quitting reduces your risk of other types of cancer too, including cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, bladder and cervix.

Second-hand smoke is also dangerous. Breathing second-hand smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer and cancers of the larynx and pharynx.

For more information and tips on what you can do, visit:

Nutrition and Fitness

Although preventing cancer is not as simple as eating certain foods or doing particular exercises, we do know that:

  • Being overweight puts you at greater risk of developing cancer. You can reduce your risk of cancer by staying at a healthy body weight.
  • You can maintain a healthy body weight by eating well. This includes eating lots of vegetables, fruit and fibre, and only small amounts of fat and sugar.
  • Regular exercise provides protection against cancer. It’s also a great way to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eating lots of red meat and processed meat increases your risk of developing cancer.

Eating well is a matter of balance, variety and moderation. Although counting calories isn’t the answer, it is important not to eat more than your body needs. You can begin by eating a variety of foods each day to get the nutrients you need for good health. Healthy eating can be easy, inexpensive and quick. It’s a habit, and every day it gets a little easier. The important thing is to start now.

Regular physical activity can help prevent cancer and offers many other health benefits. Don’t let the idea of “exercise” put you off. Working out in a gym or playing a sport is great, but physical activity is so much more than this.

Starting small is okay – every little bit helps. Think of ways you can add more movement to your day and gradually add more activity over time. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Take the stairs.
  • Park farther away from the door when you go somewhere.
  • Walk to work.

If you have any medical conditions or are not currently physically active, talk to your doctor about what activity is best for you before you get started.

For more information and tips on what you can do, visit:


Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing cancer of the breast, liver, esophagus, larynx, mouth, pharynx, colon and rectum.

The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk. If you do drink alcohol, follow these guidelines:

  • Women should drink no more than 1 drink a day and men should drink no more than 2 drinks a day.
  • Don’t smoke. Tobacco and alcohol together increase your risk more than either does on its own.

For more information and tips on what you can do, visit:

Sun & Ultraviolet Radiation

Sunlight is important for good health. Spending too much time in the sun can cause skin cancer and eye problems. Be safe when in the sun to protect you and your family.

Tanning is not safe, no matter how you do it. Tanning beds and sun lamps are not safe alternatives to natural sunlight. Using these devices increases your risk of getting skin cancer.

Check your skin often. If you notice any changes in your skin, talk to your doctor.

For more information and tips on what you can do, visit:

Last reviewed: 5/5/2022
Last modified: 1/23/2024 10:56 AM
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