We all know that smoking is a massive no-no when it comes to increasing the risk of developing cancer, but a recent report has claimed that many people are unaware of the other lifestyle changes they could make to cut their chance of getting the deadly disease.
Data from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) suggests that around one quarter to one third of the new cases of cancer which appear each year in the UK could have been stopped with relatively small changes to lifestyle. There were 351,000 new cases in 2014 – and it is thought 84,000 were easily preventable. Here are the main changes you can make to try to move yourself out of the danger zone...
This only works if you are obese or seriously overweight, but if you are carrying a bit too much timber – losing it can significantly lower your risk of developing 10 cancers. One-in-20 UK cancer cases are linked to body weight – with varieties including bowel cancer, womb cancer, liver and kidney cancer, cancer of the oesophagus, breast cancer after the menopause and pancreatic cancer. It is thought that nine per cent of the new cases of prostate cancer in men could be prevented each year if the sufferers were not obese or overweight. Obviously it's easier said than done, but these figures provide something to chew over.
Even doing as little as 10 or 15 minutes physical exercise is claimed to have a significant impact on the likelihood of developing certain cancers. The WCRF claims a whopping 38 per cent of breast cancer in post-menopausal women could be prevented by increasing physical exercise and – as mentioned above – reducing body fat. It's not just that exercise helps you lose weight however, it also causes hormonal changes in the body – having a positive effect on the likelihood of developing breast cancer (after the menopause), bowel cancer or womb cancer in particular. Working out also helps prevent inflammation of the bowel – a natural process which has been linked to the development of cancer if it happens repeatedly.
Stop drinking (or at least cut down)
It doesn't make happy reading for those of us who enjoy a tipple, but the fact is that the less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of cancer. The demon drink is reckoned to cause 4 per cent of cancers in the UK – nearly 13,000 cases per year – with bigger drinkers being at more risk and those who smoke as well being at the greatest risk. There is no difference between types of booze, it's the alcohol that does the damage – and it doesn't matter from the point of view of cancer whether you binge drink or spread it out over the week. Those who stay within the government guidelines on drinking have been demonstrated to have a lower risk of cancer – which is worth bearing in mind next time you're rushing to the bar at last orders.
OK, you knew this was coming – but quitting the evil weed is by far the biggest single thing you can do to lessen your risk of cancer. The NHS Choices website states that 10 years after you quit, you will only be half as likely to develop cancer as somebody who has continued to smoke. After 15 years your risk will be the same as a non-smoker. The research asserts that one third of lung cancer cases could be prevented by people quitting the habit now. So what are you waiting for? It's easier than ever with E-cigarettes and support from the NHS.
Have you made some changes to your lifestyle recently? Leave a comment below...