Cancer Research UK has just released figures from a study carried out in 2010 that shows that 4 in 10 cancers could be prevented by changes in lifestyle.
No surprise that smoking was the biggest cause of cancer contributing to over 20% of the total and responsible for an estimated 61,000 diagnoses. The main cancer from smoking was lung cancer but it also increases the risk of throat, mouth, liver, bowl, kidney, bladder and cervical cancer.
The next was poor diet at 9%. Too much salt and red meat and a lack of fruit and vegetables was responsible for around 30,000 cancers each year. Obesity alone was responsible for 5% or 17,000 cancers and the cancers caused by poor diet and obesity include bowl and breast cancer but this could be just the tip of the iceberg with many more tumours including prostrate tumours originating from unhealthy eating habits.
Alcohol is not far behind at 4% or 12,500 cases. Alcohol can cause bowel, breast, mouth and throat cancer and the risk increases greatly if combined with a smoking habit. Another factor that could be effecting this cancer rate is binge drinking.
Other cancers that could be prevented was skin cancer that the study found was partly due the sunbed use and cancers caused by occupational hazards, infections, hormone replacement therapy and not breast-feeding.
According to Cancer Research UK a change in lifestyle and environmental factors such as stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, loosing weight, eating more fruit and vegetables and doing more exercise more than134,000 cancers could be prevented
This will now open up discussion on how this can be tackled. Some people now feel it is time to remove the carrot approach and use the stick by using legislation, reducing availability and increasing prices of cigarettes, alcohol and fatty foods. The savings to the British National Health Service would be enormous and so there is a credible argument but would one really want to live in such a nanny state?
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