Nearly half of cancers are self-inflicted

A review of 18 different types of cancer and their diagnoses from 1993 to 2007 has allowed authors of a new report in the British Journal of Cancer to predict numbers and causes of cancers in the UK in 2010.

An incredible 34% of cancers are linked to lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol, bad diet and excess weight with further risk factors including occupation and exposure to sunbeds making approximately 40% of cancers preventable. The top risk factor for both men and women was found to be smoking and contributed to 23% and almost 16% of cancers, respectively. As lead author Prof Max Parkin states “…it’s clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.”

Collectively almost 15 thousand cancer diagnoses were attributed to a lack of fruit and vegetables with a further 17 thousand cancer cases linked to patients being overweight or obese. The message is clear: the dramatic increase in preventable cancers can be stopped by making small changes in lifestyle such as watching what you eat, giving up smoking and getting more exercise.

Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary