Cancer is something that will touch most people’s lives – either directly or through somone we know and care for. Less than half of all the cancers suffered by people in the UK are caused by factors that we can have some influence over – so as individuals we can’t avoid all the risk by following healthy living advice. You can do everything right and still be unlucky enough to develop a cancer. By following the healthy living advice you are just changing the odds in your favour. By the same logic ignoring the healthy living advice – to maintain a healthy weight, eat plenty of fruit and veg, not to drink to excess, get plenty of moderate exercise and above all not to smoke – doesn’t mean you will definitely develop illnesses like cancer – you are simply changing the odds .
The key thing for this blog is that many of the lifestyle factors are set in early life, and as parents, teachers, community members we can have a big influence on whether children will grow up to avoid these risks.
We can also organise society to reduce the risk of cancer. For example, by making it easier for people to access fruit and veg, take exercise, avoid cigarette smoke and access to help to give up. We can also make sure that workplaces are safe and do expose workers to occupational hazards – we can make alcohol more expensive so that we don’t drink quite as much etc etc. None of that is easy but nor is developing and organising treatment for cancer and least of all undergoing treatment for cancer