Thousands of UK cancers avoidable, says charity

A charity has called on people to adopt healthier lifestyles Credit: PA

Almost 150,000 cancers diagnosed in the UK every year could be prevented if the nation was healthier, a charity has claimed.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said that 366,303 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2017 – more than 1,000 people every day.

But the charity has estimated that 147,000 of these cancers could be prevented with healthier lifestyles.

It said that around 40% of cancers could be avoided if people stopped smoking, ate healthy foods, were active and maintained a healthy weight.

Other ways include drinking less alcohol, eating no more than three portions of red meat a week and little if any processed meat, breastfeeding where possible and being safe in the sun, the WCRF said.

“When we hear the word cancer, we often think of it as something inevitable that can’t be avoided,” said Susannah Brown, head of research interpretation at WCRF.

“However, about 40% of all cancers could be prevented. Eating a healthy diet, being more active each day and maintaining a healthy weight are, after not smoking, the most important ways to reduce cancer risk.

“So, we want to change the narrative so that people feel empowered to make healthier choices, instead of feeling defeatist about cancer as an inevitable future.”

Caroline Cerny, alliance lead at the Obesity Health Alliance, added: “Our environment is flooded with unhealthy food which can overwhelm families and make healthy eating extremely challenging.

“The Government has a key role to play in shaping an environment that supports health. A key part of this is addressing the tide of junk food marketing with a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts and restrictions on promotions.”