Unhealthy Lifestyle Accounts For More Than Half A Million Cancer Cases, UK Study Finds

Asher Bayot - Author

Dec. 27 2014, Updated 7:58 a.m. ET

Unhealthy lifestyle is to blame for at least 600,000 cancers in the United Kingdom in the last five years, according to a shocking finding by Cancer Research UK.

At least four in 10 cancers have been attributed to unhealthy living, according to the organization’s latest groundbreaking numbers. Researchers added that these cancers could have been prevented in the last five years, if people lead healthier lifestyles and strayed away from destructive habits.

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Smoking tops the most preventable cancer-causing habit in the country, according to Cancer Research UK’s latest figures, adding that more than 300,000 cases — or one-fifth of all cancers in the United Kingdom in the last five years — could have been halted if people gave up smoking. Moreover, unhealthy eating patterns were blamed for around 145,000 cancers in the recent statistics, and excessive weight was linked to at least 80,000 cases of cancer within the last five years. All in all, more than half the cancers in the UK could have been prevented by steering away from an unhealthy lifestyle, according to the cancer charity.

University of London researcher Max Parkin, who aided the charity in the latest cancer data, says, “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.”

“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 favour by taking positive steps now that will help decrease our cancer risk in future,” Parkin added.

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The organization advised people to make healthy living a huge part of their new year’s resolutions, saying that doing something as simple as eating less saltier foods or spending less time under the sun could drastically help reduce cancer cases in the UK.

For more difficult habits to break, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, support groups offer a wide array of pointers to help people get away from these detrimental activities.

NHS offered a few simple tips to get a smoker started with the quitting process, including changing a pattern in drinking habits (avoiding soda and other “fizzy” drinks which can make cigarettes more appealing) and making new non-smoking friends.

Drink Aware gave some pointers on how to get away from that last shot. According to them, gradually reducing the amounts of alcohol, instead of straight-up giving them a cold shoulder, is more effective in training oneself to crave less for the spirits.

[Image from DucDigital/Flickr]


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