According to research conducted by Cancer Research UK, approximately 600,000 cancer cases in the UK could have been avoided had individuals lived healthier lifestyles. In fact, as described in a press release by the organization, “More than four in 10 cancers could be prevented…[w]ith health services already overstretched and people living longer, prevention is vital to tackle cancer head on.”
Decades of research have clearly shown that smoking is the most significant, preventable cause of cancer worldwide, resulting in nearly 100 million deaths in the 20th century alone. Cancers associated with smoking including lung cancer as well as cancers of the larynx, mouth, throat, bowel, pancreas and certain types of leukemia, among others.
Less obvious lifestyle choices, however, include protecting one’s skin from the sun by avoiding the sun when its rays are strongest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and covering exposed skin areas. Additional tips from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota include eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, limiting fats that increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese, and engaging in regular exercise.
Additionally, researchers recommend drinking alcohol in moderation given that alcohol consumption can increase the risk of certain cancers including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver. Of course these risks depend on the amount and length of time that an individual consumes alcohol, still alcohol consumption is a consideration to have when considering one’s own lifestyle choices.
Other factors include vaccinations: certain viral infections can increase cancer risk. Acquiring immunizations against Hepatitis B and Human papillomavirus (HPV) can collectively reduce one’s risk of developing liver or genital cancers respectively.
Professor Linda Bauld from Cancer Research UK has said, “There are more than 200 types of cancer each caused by a complex set of factors…WE must make sure the public and the policy-makers know the evidence behind the benefits of these lifestyle changes is solid.”
Beyond lifestyle changes, individuals must make sure to remain in regular medical care. Physicians and healthcare practitioners can demonstrate how to conduct self-exams as well as screen people for various types of cancer of the skin, colon, prostate, breast and cervix. Generally, early detection of cancer can increase a person’s chance of survival, so it is important to be proactive about cancer prevention.
(Photo courtesy of Boby)