Worldwide, cancer annually kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
By 2030, it’s estimated that cancer will cause the deaths of around 17 million people, according to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).
However, it’s not all bad news as 30 to 40 per cent of cancers can be prevented, and one-third of cancers can now be cured through early diagnosis and treatment.
Lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, exercising regularly, not smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can all help to lower your risk of developing cancer.
On World Cancer Day 2012 (February 4), the UICC is encouraging people across the world to commit to the type of lifestyle changes that lower their risk of cancer.
Cary Adams, UICC chief executive, said: “On World Cancer Day we echo the World Health Organization’s belief that we can reduce deaths from non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, by 25 per cent by 2025; but this is only possible if we work together to realise achievable and impactful interventions.
“Cancer knows no boundaries, so we all must take responsibility for beating this devastating disease. Together it is possible.”
A report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research in 2007 made the following recommendations for cancer prevention:
*Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
*Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
*Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fibre, or high in fat)
*Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, and pulses such as beans
*Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats
*If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women daily
*Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium)
*Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer
*It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods
These recommendations are in addition to stopping smoking – still the single biggest risk factor for a range of cancers, not just lung cancer – protecting yourself from the harmful effects of the sun and getting vaccinated against infections which can lead to cancer such as HPV (cervical cancer) and HBV (liver cancer).