Top tips to help reduce your risk of cancer
Each year in the UK, more than 331,000 people are diagnosed with cancer. The four most common cancers (breast, prostate, lung, bowel (colorectal)) make up over half of all these cases. It is estimated that 1 in 2 people will develop cancer at some point in their lives.
Many people are affected by cancer, either directly, or because they know somebody who has been affected by the disease. Unfortunately there are no proven ways to prevent cancer, but the good news is there are some lifestyle measures you can take to help reduce your risk.
Cancer is a complex disease and the risk of developing cancer depends on a combination of factors including your genes, your environment and other aspects of your life, many of which we can control. For example, smoking, over exposure to the sun or sunbeds, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight or obese and lack of physical activity (for more information on genetic and environmental causes of cancer go to Cancer Research UK).
Tobacco is the single biggest avoidable cause of cancer in the world. Smoking causes over a quarter of cancer deaths in the UK and nearly one in five cancer cases. Obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.
But eating a healthy, balanced diet can play an important role in reducing your risk of cancer.
It is estimated that healthier diets could help prevent 1 in 10 cancers in the UK, The strongest dietary links are with cancers of the digestive tract – mouth, food pipe (gullet or oesophagus), stomach and bowel (colon).
The following sections provide tips on how diet and some lifestyle changes can help to lower your risk of cancer. This includes:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Maintaining a healthy weight
Staying physically active
Drinking less alcohol
If you are a new mum then, breastfeeding may help to protect you and your baby from risk of certain cancers later in life.
Breastfeeding reduces the mother's risk of breast cancer.
Evidence also suggests that being breastfed may protect children against being overweight and obese, which in turn reduces their risk of cancer in the future.