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Could Healthy Living Prevent Millions Of Cancer Cases?

First Posted: Dec 26, 2014 11:08 PM EST
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New research shows that certain lifestyle factors could help reduce the risk of 4 out of 10 types cancers. A U.K. based study highlighted various suspects, including smoking, bad diet and alcohol use. Findings revealed that smoking is the number one risk when it comes nasty habits. 

Fortunately, changing your diet by eating more fruits and veggies and cutting down on processed foods can help cutting down on these risks. (If smoking is eliminated, of course.)

"There's now little doubt that certain lifestyle choices can have a big impact on cancer risk, with research around the world all pointing to the same key risk factors," said Professor Max Parkin, a Cancer Research U.K. statistician based at Queen Mary University of London, in a news release. "Of course everyone enjoys some extra treats during the Christmas holidays so we don't want to ban mince pies and wine but it's a good time to think about taking up some healthy habits for 2015. Leading a healthy lifestyle can't guarantee someone won't get cancer but we can stack the odds in our [favor] by taking positive steps now that will help decrease our cancer risk in future."

The study results revealed close to 314,000 cases of preventable cancer had been linked to smoking over the past five years, while another 145,000 could be prevented by maintaining a healthier diet. Another 88,000 cases were also associated with excessive weight gain.

"Every year tens of thousands of people in the UK will be diagnosed with preventable cancers unless we act now to help people lead healthier lives. Alongside investment in health campaigns and ways to help people reduce their risk of cancer, the government urgently needs to take action to stop children starting smoking by introducing [standardized] packaging for cigarettes without delay. We hope all parliamentary parties will acknowledge that cancer is set to be an ongoing challenge and one which needs careful planning and investment across prevention, diagnosis and treatment," said Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research U.K.'s chief executive.

"We know that cutting UK smoking rates by just one per cent could save 3,000 lives a year," he concluded. "But changing habits isn't easy." 

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