Cancer Research UK is the leading source of cancer-related research statistics for the UK and we have quoted their figures on this page.
The numbers suggest that lifestyle/environment contributed to over 40% of cancers in 2010. This means that there is a high element of preventability against cancer.
That organisation’s cancer survival statistics show that survival rates have doubled in the past 40 years but also that there is a huge variation in survival prospects depending on the type of cancer. Lung and pancreatic cancer still have very low survival rates.
Cancer caused 1 in 4 deaths in the UK in 2011.
Smoking is still by far the biggest contributory factor for cancer.
Benefits of a healthy lifestyle and early diagnosis
Your lifestyle and your genes combine to cause cancer. It’s impossible to completely eradicate the risk of cancer but the single biggest precaution you can take is a healthy lifestyle.
The kind of lifestyle changes that matter are quitting smoking (or not smoking at all), reducing alcohol consumption, eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight.
You can find out more about environmental factors and lifestyle factors that contribute to cancer by visiting the Cancer Research UK website.
Things you can do to reduce cancer risk
- Make a real effort to quit smoking – there is loads of help and free medication available nowadays
- Drink less alcohol or stop drinking completely
- Maintain a healthy weight by keeping active and eating healthily
- Avoid sun beds and sun bathing – and wear sunscreen/protection outdoors in summer
- Be aware of how you can be exposed to infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) or Hepatitis C and B and avoid the kind of activities that may bring you into contact with them
- Educate yourself about cancer symptoms so that you can spot them – early diagnosis greatly increases your chances of receiving successful treatment
There are several free support organisations to help you improve your lifestyle.
- Quit smoking NHS service
- Eat healthily and stay active
- Drink less alcohol
- There is a whole range of cancer screening programmes to help you spot early signs of cancer. You can see the list on the government’s population screening website.
- The NHS Be Clear on Cancer website also shows you how to spot symptoms.
For 12 to 13 year old girls, the NHS childhood vaccination programme provides immunisation against HPV (human papilloma virus) to prevent cervical cancer. Find out more on the NHS Choices website.