Diet and Exercise

Small changes in exercise and diet can decrease risk factors for many cancers.

Poor diet and lack of exercise can increase cancer risk and reduce the length and quality of life after cancer diagnosis.

SF CAN aims to use proven and emerging interventions to help San Franciscans increase and sustain physical activity.   

% of People Who Get More than 30 Minutes of Exercise Regularly

San Francisco



Obesity has been linked to postmenopausal breast cancer and cancers of the endometrium, pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus and kidney, among others. Red meat and processed meats have been linked to colorectal cancer.  Alcohol consumption puts people at higher risk for a number of cancers including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancer.

Breast  Colorectal Liver 

While improving the nation’s dietary habits is an ongoing challenge, there have been successful interventions. A citywide coalition such as SF CAN would coordinate proven approaches to encouraging healthier diets.


Research increasingly cites physical activity as a tool in lowering risk for some cancers and an important factor in improving length and quality of life after diagnosis. Exercise also may play a role in reducing side effects from some cancer treatments.

Yet, San Franciscans generally exercise less than the rest of the state. Only 22.7% of San Francisco respondents in the California Health Interview Survey get more than 30 minutes of exercise a day for five days a week. This compares to 26.6 % of respondents statewide.

Intervention could include supporting the expansion of safe public spaces and the use of mobile apps.