Researchers: Healthy Lifestyle Could Have Helped Save More than Half Million Cancer Victims in UK


Live healthy and keep cancer away. According to Cancer Research UK, about 600,000 cancer victims in the UK could have avoided the big C if they had put more effort into making changes in their lifestyle. The latest number showed that 4 out 10 incidents could have been prevented by developing healthy habits.

The top cancer victims are cigarette smokers. Keeping those cigarettes away could have reduced the cancer cases substantially to less than 314,000 incidents since 2009.

A lack of a balanced diet comes second. By eating the right foods, another 145,000 cases could have been culled. Avoiding red and processed red meat products can also help a lot, as well as slowing down on salts and loading more on veggies.

Obesity contributed another 88,000 cancer cases, not counting the thousands more from those who consume too much alcohol, expose themselves to the sun unprotected, and lead a sedentary life.

“There’s now little doubt that certain lifestyle choices can have a big impact on cancer risk with research around the world all pointing to the same key risk factors,” said Professor Max Parkin, from Queen Mary, University of London, who was responsible in compiling the statistical evidence for the study.

“Of course everyone enjoys some extra treats during the Christmas holidays so we don’t want to ban mince pies and wine, but it’s a good time to think about taking up some healthy habits for 2015.”

“Leading a healthy lifestyle can’t guarantee someone won’t get cancer but we can stack the odds in our favor by taking positive steps now that will help decrease our cancer risk in future,” Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s expert on cancer prevention, added: “There are more than 200 types of cancer, each caused by a complex set of factors involving both our genes and our lifestyles.

“There are proven ways to minimise our risk of cancer, like giving up smoking, being more active, drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight. We must make sure the public and the policy-makers know the evidence behind the benefits of these lifestyle changes is solid.”

(Justine Sheils, aged 43, a resident from Liverpool who underwent five cancerous moles surgeries, was in the habit of always using sunbeds in her younger years, said, “We didn’t know about the dangers of sunbathing when I was in my teens and twenties – or at least I didn’t want to know.

“I sunbathed on holiday and then used sunbeds to keep my tan topped up all year around which was the fashion in those days. It wasn’t until I noticed a suspicious-looking mole on my chest that I really thought about the risks I was taking.

“Being diagnosed with malignant melanoma gave me one heck of a wake-up call. I’ve had surgery five times now to remove various moles and I go for check-ups every few months.

“It’s been a truly horrible experience but it did make me think about how I need to overhaul my lifestyle – so I’ve taken up running, I make sure I’m eating a healthy diet and getting my five fruit and vegetables every day and I’ve cut back on alcohol.”

Harpal Kumar, chief executive Of Cancer Research UK, added: “We know that cutting UK smoking rates by just one per cent could save 3,000 lives a year. But changing habits isn’t easy.”

To recap here are some of the figures which could have been eliminated and contributed to the reduction of cancer cases since 1999:

  • Smoking: 314,000
  • Eating too much red and processed meat, and food with high salt content and low in vegetables: 145,000
  • Overweight and obesity and lack of exercise: 88,000
  • Too much alcohol consumption, exposing skin to sun unprotected: thousands more



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