Pacific Cancer Programs

Food, Nutrition and Physical Activity

Food, nutrition, and physical activity play an important role in cancer prevention. The information and resources provided below offer a comprehensive understanding of the important role these factors play in cancer prevention. Specific recommendations for cancer prevention are included below as well as resources, manuals, brochures, and links to beneficial books and published literature, including resources from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1. General Prevention

Ten Recommendations for Cancer Prevention: These recommendations are based on the 2007 Expert Report from the World Cancer Research Fund UK. This report contains the most comprehensive research available on cancer prevention. It outlines the diet, physical activity and weight management steps you can take to reduce your risk. Also, choosing not to smoke (or giving up if you do) can play a big role in reducing cancer. Together, these

  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
  3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat)
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and pulses such as beans
  5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day
  7. Limit consumption of salty foods and food processed with salt (sodium)
  8. Don't use supplements to protect against cancer
  9. It's best for mothers to breast feed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods
  10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention

The Report found growing evidence that maintaining a healthy weight through diet and physical activity may help to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. And, always remember - do not smoke or chew tobacco. Smoking or using tobacco in any form increases the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.

2. Diet and Food Tips

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC) Public Health Programme (PHP) is dedicated to improving the health, and therefore the future, of all Pacific Islanders. PHP strives to promote and protect the health of Pacific Island peoples. It advocates a holistic approach to health, supports sustainable capacity development, and facilitates and promotes collaboration with partners.

SPC South Pacific Foods Leaflets: The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has developed a series of booklets and newsletters that feature the health benefits of traditional Pacific crops, food security and health issues. Promoting Pacific foods includes cooking tips and nutritional information.

Pacific Island Nutrition (PIN): This is another SPC resource that includes regional news, updates on research and locally available resources. The focus of the newsletter is lifestyle, health and nutrition. It is produced in both French and English, every quarter and distributed throughout the region.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Fact Sheets: Offer a quick two to four page overview on key issues. In simple black and white text, the SPC Fact Sheets can be printed and used as handouts, student resources or photocopied for distribution.

  1. Alcohol (pdf 220KB)
  2. Cancer (pdf 200KB)
  3. Diabetes (pdf 230KB)
  4. Physical Activity (pdf 270KB)
  5. Fats & Oils (pdf 300KB)
  6. Food Safety (pdf 250KB)
  7. Gout (pdf 240KB)
  8. Heart Disease & Hypertension (pdf 320KB)
  9. Feeding Babies & Young Children (pdf 340KB)
  10. Overweight and Obesity (pdf 370KB)
  11. Water (pdf 210KB)
  12. Salt (pdf 260KB)
  13. Stress (pdf 200KB)
  14. Sugar (pdf 240KB)
  15. Tobacco & Betel Nut Chewing (pdf 400KB)
  16. Healthy Eating (pdf 330KB)
  17. Healthy Lifestyle (pdf 220KB)
  18. Vitamin A (pdf 380KB)
  19. Overweight Children (pdf 270KB)
  20. Iron and Anemia (pdf 270KB)
  21. Fruits and Vegetables (pdf 250KB)
  22. Iodine (pdf 650KB)

The Island Food Community of Pohnpei: A non-profit chartered nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Its vision is to live in a productive environmentally sound island where a diversity of locally grown island food is produced and consumed, providing food security, sustainable development, economic benefits, self-reliance, improved health, cultural preservation, and human dignity, and at the same time protecting the natural resources.

Eating Right, Living Well: An easy, but powerful way for you to reduce your risk for developing colorectal and other cancers-and to maintain your health from the inside out-is to take a few sensible steps to eating right and living well. By the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health, a clinical center of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Proceedings of the Sixth OCEANIAFOODS Conference: The sixth meeting of OCEANIAFOODS was held in conjunction with the Second International Total Diet Workshop, recognizing that, in the Oceania region, those working in the area of the nutrient composition of food are often also involved in many other aspects of the composition of foods, including studies on contaminants.

  • Brisbane, Australia 8 - 9 February 2002, Published December 2003 by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. 90 pages (pdf 850KB)

The Pacific Tracker (PacTrac): An online dietary assessment tool that provides information on your diet quality, related nutrition messages and links to nutrient information.

3. Flyers and Brochures

Pacific Island Nutrition (PIN): Published by Healthy Pacific Lifestyle Section at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community includes regional news, updates on research and locally available resources. The focus of the newsletter is lifestyle, health and nutrition. It is produced in both French and English, every quarter and distributed throughout the region.

The Healthy Pacific Lifestyle Section (Secretariat of the Pacific Community) produces a range of resources such as posters, leaflets, information booklets and videos for use in the Pacific. Most of the visual resources are available in English and French.

Choices for Good Health: American Cancer Society Guidelines for Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention. Information for patients that can be used as a handout.

  • CA Cancer J Clin 2006 56: 310-312. 4 pages (pdf 190KB)

Pacific Island Indigenous Food Poster: The fourth in a series by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment, and the International Development Research Centre.

4. CDC/NCI Resources

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC and NCI links below contain excellent resources and instructions on how healthy eating can reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases including cancer. Some of the basics include: eating a healthy diet by choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables, avoiding fats, added sugars, and salt. Healthier eating could reduce cancer deaths in the United States by as much as 35 percent.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Resources: This National Cancer Institute resource covers the complete range of cancer resource topics including cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. It also covers a comprehensive list and description of all cancer types.

5. Manuals and Scientific Texts

WHO: Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health: Healthy diets and regular, adequate physical activity are major factors in the promotion and maintenance of good health throughout the entire life course. Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are two of the main risk factors for raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose, abnormal blood lipids, overweight/obesity, and for the major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

Recommendations for Cancer Prevention: An invaluable resource for reducing your risk, this booklet gives an overview of the 10 recommendations and the evidence behind them.

  • World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF UK), 2007. 18 pages (pdf 2MB)

Solving the Diet-Cancer Mystery: How do we know that diet is linked to cancer? This booklet explains how scientific studies can provide clues by giving and overview of what kind of studies provide what kind of clues.

  • World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF UK), 2007. 9 pages (pdf 930KB)

Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective: This summary provides an abbreviated version of the full Report. It highlights the wealth of information and data studied by the Panel and is designed to give readers an overview of the key issues contained within the Report, notably the process, the synthesis of the scientific evidence, and the resulting judgments and recommendations. It’s the most current and comprehensive analysis of the literature on diet, physical activity and cancer. It builds on the foundation, first established by the WCRF global network in 1982, to analyze, interpret and make public the available scientific evidence to help individuals to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

Diet, Food Supply and Obesity in the Pacific: The objective of this paper is to review documented evidence and examine the relationships between the food supply, dietary patterns and obesity in Pacific countries. Obesity and consumption of imported foods seem to be an urban phenomenon in the Pacific. A suitable definition for a recommended proportion of fat in a national diet has been established. Before European contact, the food behavior of the people of the Pacific region may have remained the same for millennia. The main staples were root crops.

  • World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Western Pacific, 2003. 70 pages (pdf 320KB)

American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention: Reducing the Risk of Cancer With Healthy Food Choices and Physical Activity: The American Cancer Society (ACS) publishes Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines to serve as a foundation for its communication, policy, and community strategies and ultimately, to affect dietary and physical activity patterns among Americans. These Guidelines, published every 5 years, are developed by a national panel of experts in cancer research, prevention, epidemiology, public health, and policy, and as such, they represent the most current scientific evidence related to dietary and activity patterns and cancer risk.

  • Lawrence H. Kushi, ScD, Tim Byers, et al. and The American Cancer Society 2006 Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. CA Cancer J Clin 2006; 56:254-281. 30 pages (pdf 360KB)

Pacific Islands Food Safety and Quality Consultation: A guide with information on food safety and quality in the Pacific islands from the World Health Organization. This report also discusses strategies and findings for coordinated obesity prevention, food safety, and quality in the Pacific:

  • Convened by: World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Western Pacific : co-sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations; Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Nadi, Fiji, 11-15 November 2002. WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, 2003, 55 pages (pdf 220KB)

Healthy Marketplaces in the Western Pacific: Guiding Future Action: These guidelines aim to provide national, provincial and local authorities, mayors, city administrators, health professionals, nongovernmental organizations, and market communities with practical information on how to initiate a Healthy Marketplace programme that draws on the strategies identified in the Ottawa Charter and address the physical, mental and social elements of health.

  • WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific 2004. 39 pages (pdf 3.8MB)

6. Books and Published Literature

Food, Drinks and Life: This book is a basic introduction to food, drinks, and life in the Pacific. It also includes the role food choice plays in customs, ways of life, the economy, and primary health care. It is part of a series published to improve the health of Pacific Islanders. Each chapter includes up to date information on ways people in the Pacific can make good food choices and lead healthy lives. Stories, drawings, summaries, and questions are included to make the information interesting, relevant and easy to read.

  • The South Pacific Community Nutrition Training Project 1990, 114 Pages ISBN-9820304180, $6.00. Visit the University of the South Pacific Bookstore

Nutrition and an Active Life: from Knowledge to Action: Information about diet, nutrition and living and active life.

  • Pan American Health Organization, 2005.Wilma B. Freire, editor. Scientific and technical publication (PAHO); no. 612. 247 pages (pdf 1.4MB)

Carotenoid-rich Bananas: A Potential Food Source for Alleviating Vitamin A Deficiency: This review article points out that bananas are an important food for many people in the world. Thus, banana cultivars rich in provitamin A carotenoids may offer a potential food source for alleviating vitamin A deficiency, particularly in developing countries.

  • Lois Englberger, Ian Darnton-Hill, Terry Coyne, Maureen H. Fitzgerald, and Geoffrey C. Marks. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 24, no. 4, 2003, The United Nations University. 16 pages, (pdf 340KB)

7. Food Security and Climate Change

Following is a collection of articles that are relevant to the Pacific and deal with Food Security and Climate Change. Please feel free to browse the documents linked in below:

  • A profile of diabetes in Pacific Island Countries and Territories, (pdf 440KB)
  • Development, global change and traditional food security in Pacific Island countries, (pdf 667KB)
  • Food security in the island Pacific: Is Micronesia as far away as ever? (pdf 294KB)
  • Ciguatera Fish Poisoning in the Pacific Islands (1998 to 2008), (pdf 159KB)
  • Processed foods available in the Pacific Islands, (pdf 411KB)
  • Climate Change and Accusation - Global Warming and Local Blame in a Small Island State (pdf 343KB)
  • Trade policy and obesity prevention: challenges and innovation in the Pacific Islands, (pdf 92KB)

8. Other Resources is dedicated to connecting patients, students and professionals to the latest and most useful healthcare information and resources available.

Their resources on Obesity can be accessed by clicking >HERE< or by visiting the obesity specific part of the website.

Next to obesity,'s website contains a wealth of information on other public health related topics, worth visiting.

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Funding for this website was made possible by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through the following:
Pacific CEED, award #: 5U58DP000976,USAPI Community Health Interventions Project (CHIP), award #: 1U58DP005810,
Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry, award #: 5U58DP003906; Regional Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, award #: U55/CCU923887.
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Funding Sources: PRCCR: #: 5U58DP003906  | Pacific REACH: #: 1U58DP005810 | RCCC: #: U55/CCU923887 

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