Nearly half of all cancer cases ‘could be prevented’

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ALMOST half of all cancers in men and women could be prevented, according to a major study.

The Cancer Research UK report found more than 100,000 cancers each year in the UK are caused by four lifestyle factors – smoking, unhealthy diets, alcohol and people being too fat.

This rises to around 134,000 cases a year when 14 lifestyle and environmental factors are taken into account.

Smoking is by far the biggest lifestyle contributor to a person’s risk of developing cancer, accounting for 23 per cent of all cancers in men and 15.6 per cent in women.

As well as lung cancer, it is implicated in other forms of the disease including bladder, kidney, pancreatic and cervical cancer. One in 25 cancers is linked to a person’s job, such as being exposed to chemicals or asbestos, while one in 33 is linked to infections, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of cervical cancer.

Overall, more than 34 per cent of cancers in 2010 (106,845) were linked to smoking, diet, drinking alcohol and excess weight.

In men, 6.1 per cent of cancer cases were linked to a lack of fruit and vegetables, 4.9 per cent to occupation, 4.6 per cent to alcohol, 4.1 per cent to overweight and obesity and 3.5 per cent to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds.

In women, 6.9 per cent were linked to overweight and obesity, 3.7 per cent to infections such as HPV, 3.6 per cent to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds, 3.4 per cent (5,300) to lack of fruit and vegetables and 3.3 per cent (5,100) to alcohol.