Cancer, the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, is a disease which has touched almost every person in some or other way. Globally it has contributed to an estimated 14.1 million cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths and 32.6 million people living with cancer in 2012, according to the GLOBOCAN 2012 project. Lung cancer was the most common cancer worldwide (13%) with breast cancer being the second most common (12%) and colorectal cancer the third most common cancer (10%) in 2012.

In South Africa specifically there were 57 000 known cases in 2009 of which the top 5 most common cancers for men and women, according to the National Cancer Registry (2009), are shown below:

•    Prostate cancer
•    Cancer of unknown primary (CUP)
•    Kaposi sarcoma
•    Lung cancer
•    Colorectal cancer

•    Breast cancer
•    Cervical cancer
•    Cancer of unknown primary (CUP)
•    Kaposi sarcoma
•    Colorectal cancer


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), non-infectious diseases which follow a long course, currently account for 63% of deaths worldwide and that figure is set to rise by 15% by 2020. The 4 major NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and lung disease; of which all four are preventable and are therefore labelled “diseases of lifestyle”. The 3 leading risk factors for these conditions include tobacco use, poor diet (including harmful use of alcohol) and insufficient physical activity. It is therefore clear that behaviour and lifestyle change is critical in the fight against NCDs. The table in the section below highlights lifestyle factors that can be modified to help to reduce your risk of cancer specifically.


The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) in collaboration with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published a report in 1997 named Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. The amount of scientific evidence dramatically increased and technology advanced since the mid 1990’s which resulted in the need for an updated second report which was then published in 2007. A panel consisting of 22 of the world’s leading scientists, supported by observers from the United Nations and other international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) examined the then latest literature. One of the main goals of the report was to explore the extent to which food, nutrition, physical activity and body composition modify the risk of cancer, and to specify which factors are most important.



“be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight”

Ensure that your body weight falls within the lower end of the normal BMI range through childhood and adolescence and at age 21 then within the normal range from 21 onwards and avoid weight gain and increases in waist circumference throughout adulthood.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of some cancers. According to the report, maintenance of a healthy weight throughout life may be one of the most important ways to protect against cancer. This will also protect against several other chronic diseases.FUTURELIFE® products can assist weight management when eaten appropriately.

“Be physically active as part of everyday life”

• Be moderately physically active (such as brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes every day.
• As your fitness improves, increase to 60 minutes of moderate activity or stay at 30 minutes but increase the intensity.
• Limit inactive habits such as watching TV.

All forms of activity protect against some cancers. Physical activity also protects against weight gain, overweight and obesity which leads to a healthy weight which in itself as mentioned above also protects against some cancers.

“Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks”

• Consume energy-dense foods sparingly
• Avoid drinks with added sugar and limit fruit juices
• Consume ‘fast foods’ sparingly, if at all.

This recommendation is essentially to control weight gain because the rise in consumption of energy-dense foods and sugary drinks has probably contributed to the global increase in obesity.

“Eat mostly foods of plant origin”

• Eat at least 5 portions (400g) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and fruits every day.
• Eat relatively unprocessed cereals (grains) and/or legumes with every meal.
• Limit refined starchy food

Eating foods of plant origin include such foods that are high in nutrients, high in dietary fibre and low in energy density. The report also states that most diets which are protective against cancer are mainly made up from foods of plant origin. They also protect against weight gain as they are typically low in energy.

FUTURLIFE® products are plant-based foods and have several lower in fat options available such as FUTURELIFE® ZERO which contains 1.5g per serving.

“Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat”

People who eat red meat are to consume less than 500g (weight as eaten, cooked) a week where very little, if any are processed. Processed refers to meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding chemicals.

The report states that many foods of animal origin are nourishing and healthy if consumed in modest amounts. Diets high in animal fat however increase the risk of weight gain, which influences cancer risk. Meat can however be a valuable source of nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 so the emphasis is not necessarily to exclude it but to just consume in moderation.

“Limit alcoholic drinks”

Alcoholic drinks should be limited to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink for women, if alcoholic drinks are consumed. One drink contains about 10-15g of ethanol.

There is evidence that shows modest amounts of alcoholic drink intake may reduce coronary heart disease risk (yum), however there is also evidence to show that alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer. To keep it neutral the panel therefore recommends limiting alcohol consumption.

“Limit consumption of salt, avoid mouldy grains or legumes.

• Avoid salt-preserved, salted or salty foods (preserve foods without adding salt)
• Ensure an intake of less than 6g of salt (2400mg sodium) per day by limiting intake of processed foods• Do not eat mouldy grains or legumes as they may contain aflatoxins which are toxic and are amoung the most known carcinogenic substances.

Scientific evidence has shown that salt and salt-preserved food foods are probably a cause of stomach cancer. Evidence has also shown that foods such as grains and legumes that are contaminated with aflatoxins cause liver cancer. Aflatoxins are produced by some moulds when foods are stored for too long in warm temperatures.

FUTURELIFE® products are preservative free and do not contain high amounts of sodium. Aflatoxin discussed further below.

“Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone”

Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention. The panel states that the best source of nourishment is foods and drinks.

There may be situations where supplements are advisable but for the most part, the cancer-preventing benefits of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals should be obtained from food first.FUTURELIFE® products are foods that are sources of nutrients, specifically vitamins & minerals which can assist you in meeting these needs via food first and not supplements.

“Mothers to breastfeed and children are to be breastfed”

Synonymous with the global recommendation put forward by the WHO, infants should be breastfed exclusively for 6 months and beyond and continue with complementary feeding from 6 months.

The reason for this recommendation is that breastfeeding is protective for the mother against breast and ovarian cancer and for the infant by preventing overweight and obesity in childhood.

“Follow the recommendations for cancer prevention”

All cancer survivors are to receive nutritional care from an appropriately trained professional.Aim to follow the recommendations for diet, healthy weight and physical activity, as described above (if able to do and unless otherwise advised).

There is an increasing amount of cancer survivors as treatment for cancer is improving therefore such survivors are living long enough to develop new primary cancers. Therefore these recommendations are also applicable to cancer survivors.

Information sourced from Summary Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective which can be viewed here:


As mentioned previously, aflatoxin is produced by certain species of fungi which may contaminate foods such as maize, rice, vegetable oils and nuts. Contamination may occur at the field or during improper storage and handling, specifically when handled at high and humid temperatures. Aflatoxin is known to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and it is therefore advised to be completely avoided from the diet.

At FUTURELIFE® we take great care in sourcing our raw materials and ensuring that we provide the highest quality to consumers. The maize and soya beans that are used in FUTURELIFE® products are tested for aflatoxin levels. The legal limit in South Africa is 5µg/kg for aflatoxin B1 where the test results for FUTURELIFE® maize (SmartMaize™) and soy (FutureSoy) are both always below the detectable limit of <1 µg/kg. In fact, Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2 are tested and the results always come below the detectable limits of 1 µg/kg, 0.25µg/kg, 1µg/kg and 0.25µg/kg respectively.

In conclusion, at this rate it is clear that the statistics of NCDs, specifically cancer, is not set to decrease. However most of the risk factors for NCDs are lifestyle related and can therefore be modified in order to modify your cancer risk. The recommendations given above are based on a wealth of scientific evidence and can be implemented in your life to assist in making the appropriate lifestyle changes. FUTURELIFE® Health Products can easily fit into this lifestyle change as well for several reasons which are highlighted in each recommendation. For more information on FUTURELIFE ® Health Products see the website