Reducing The Risk of Cancer- What The Evidence Suggests by Emily Smyth

In recent years, a lot of research has been done into the cause of Cancer and how likely it is to occur in different populations. There are many things which we can’t control such as genes, exposure to chemicals and environment. However, several controllable daily habits can play a role.

Cancer research UK last year suggested that smoking, diet, obesity and alcohol are responsible for 100,000 Cancers each year. That is one third of the Cancers diagnosed last year in the UK. These numbers are frighteningly large and indicate the importance of living a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce your risk of Cancer.  There is substantial evidence that poor diet, smoking and exposure to the Sun is dangerous and hence, people are made more aware of these. Smoking packets have educational pictures on them. We are encouraged to use high factor sun cream via adverts on the television and radio. Inactivity, alcohol consumption and increased body weight are all lifestyle factors which we often don’t associate with Cancer however they are significantly linked.

Recent studies suggest that alcohol intake can increase the occurrence of breast cancer by up to 33%. This study showed that women who drank more than 7 alcoholic drinks per week had a 33% higher chance of breast cancer than their counterparts who drank less than 4. However, the studies also suggest that your risk increases as your alcoholic intake increases, with those who have as little as 3 drinks per week only having a 15% chance of breast cancer. These studies, in my opinion, highlight the need for education and awareness. While drinking is often an integral part of one’s social life, knowing about these serious side effects may encourage you to decrease the amount you drink per week.

An active lifestyle has been substantially linked with a decreased risk of colon, breast and endometrial cancer ( with less substantial but positive results indicating the same of multiple other forms of cancer. While many people struggle to include exercise into their daily lives, often people don’t fully understand the health benefits associated. Exercise is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality (inclusive and exclusive of Cancer). I believe that if the benefits of exercise were turned into medication it would be the worlds most used medication. By including just 30 minutes of exercises 4 to 5 times a week, you can decrease the chances of Cancer. With such clear evidence supporting these findings, exercise is defiantly something we should all try to include in our lives.

Overall it is clear that while we cannot completely eliminate the risk of getting Cancer, there are a few things we can do to help reduce our chances. Healthy eating, exercise and reducing alcoholic intake are all well researched and documented ways to reduce your risk.