Women's health * Men's health * Healthy living

80,000 cancer cases each year could be prevented

Zone default image Top ten lifestyle tips from cancer charity

Almost 80,000 cases of cancer in the UK could be prevented each year if people ate healthily, maintained a normal weight and did some exercise, according to new figures released today.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) estimated around 78,800 cases of 12 common cancers could be prevented, including 19,100 cases of breast cancer and 16,100 cases of bowel cancer.

However, they also discovered only 60% of people in Britain are aware of the link between diet and cancer and only 45% know that exercise can help reduce your risk.

Professor Martin Wiseman, Medical and Scientific Adviser for WCRF, said: “These estimates set out in stark terms just how high the stakes are and show what could be achieved through making relatively simple lifestyle changes.

“Many people still think of cancer as a question of fate but this emphasises that people can significantly reduce their risk by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.

“When you consider that these estimates do not include the cancers that would be prevented through not smoking, it is clear that cancer is actually a largely preventable disease.

“Having a healthy lifestyle is by no means a guarantee against cancer.

"But if everyone followed our recommendations, it would mean that tens of thousands of cases in the UK would be prevented every year.

“But despite the strong scientific evidence on this, many people are still not aware of how they can reduce their risk.

"This is why more needs to be done to get the message across because it is only when people are aware of what the science is saying that they are in a position to make their own informed lifestyle choices.”

Top 10 lifestyle tips by the WCRF to reduce your risk of cancer

  • Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fibre, or high in salt)
  • Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and pulses such as beans
  • Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats. And limit consumption of salty foods and food processed with salt
  • If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women a day
  • Don’t use supplements for cancer prevention
  • It’s best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods
  • After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention
  • As well as following these recommendations, people should remember that not smoking or using tobacco is the single most important thing for preventing cancer

This article was published on Mon 16 November 2009

Image © Irina Yun - Fotolia.com

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