Diet and exercise could prevent 80,000 cancer cases

Candy Bellinger

No matter how many guidelines and diet warnings we receive, it seems Britons are still not getting the message when it comes to healthy lifestyles. According to figures released today, almost 80,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year in the UK if people ate healthily and exercised regularly.

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The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found 78,700 cancer cases might not have occurred with a healthier lifestyle. Included in the figures for 12 common cancers were an estimated 19,100 cases of breast cancer and 16,100 cases of bowel cancer.

Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser for the 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."

The research revealed that only 60% of Britons are aware of the link between diet and cancer, only 59% know of the link with excess body fat and just 45% realise the benefit of exercise when comes to reducing the risk.

Professor Wiseman added: "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."

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends 30 minutes exercise each day, that people should be as lean as possible without becoming underweight and to avoid sugary drinks, processed foods and limit red meat consumption.

Let us know what you think. Does more need to be done to get the healthy lifestyle message across?