Medical

Lifestyle choices are behind four in 10 cancers

Lifestyle choices are behind four in 10 cancers

More than 2,500 cancer cases diagnosed every week in the United Kingdom are preventable by making simple lifestyle changes, research has found.

Soaring levels of obesity, combined with the falling smoking rates, mean it could overtake smoking as the top preventable cause in the next 20 years.

Obesity is linked with type 2 diabetes risk, but research continues to show how eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help not just to lose weight but also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and help those with existing diabetes put it into remission.

Janet Boak, 55, was diagnosed with womb cancer four years ago and says her weight and lifestyle were to blame.

Cancer Research UK identified that obesity was the second leading cause of preventable cancer, accounting for 6.3% of all cancer cases, an increase from 5.5% in 2011. At the time, she was almost 20 stone.

It highlights the well-known dangers of smoking, with nearly half of all cases of cancer each year put down to tobacco. In research published this week, it highlighted how obesity caused 17,000 cancer cases in 2010 but this figure rose to 23,000 in 2017.

Next came overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and sunbeds and occupational exposure at 3.8 % each, infections (3.6 %), alcohol (3.3 %) and eating too little fibre (3.3 %).

"Banning junk food TV adverts before the 21:00 GMT watershed is an important part of the comprehensive approach needed".

The team said they hoped the government would learn from "the success of measures such as advertising restrictions, tobacco taxes and standardised packaging in cutting smoking rates", and suggested that major brands should promote healthier options. 'People regard being large as increasingly normal - that is a shift in cultural norms and acceptability.

Processed meat was found to have caused 1.5% of cancers, while air pollution caused 1%.

Rachel Rawson, of Breast Cancer Care, says: 'We can not turn a blind eye to the evidence that both being overweight and drinking alcohol increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Cancer Research UK said about 13,000 cases a year could be avoided through simple changes.