The latest figures predict one in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
To coincide with Cancer Prevention Week, a leading charity has come up with everyday ways to reduce your cancer risk.
Their nutritionists and scientists have developed a new campaign, titled I CAN…, which emails users a healthy tip every day for 21 days.
From baking to doing the housework, read on to see just a few of the I CAN… tips.
1. Have at least three alcohol-free days this week
Some evidence suggests that small amounts of alcohol may reduce the risk of heart disease, but only in those already at high risk.
However, alcohol doesn’t have any benefits in terms of cancer prevention.
In fact, there is strong evidence that alcohol is a cause of five common cancers, including bowel and breast cancer.
Aim to have at least three days with no alcohol this week.
2. Do the housework
Turn chores into exercise to help prevent cancer. Research shows that being regularly active or doing exercise has a direct role in preventing some cancers like bowel and breast cancer.
Scientists are still investigating exactly how physical activity reduces cancer risk, but studies show that regular activity can help keep your hormone levels healthy.
To burn 200 calories – the equivalent of a 500ml bottle of cola, three digestive biscuits or 16 French fries - a 10 stone woman would need to iron for 1 hour 22 minutes, vacuum for 57 minutes, walk for 57 minutes, garden for 38 minutes, or practice yoga for 1 hour 16 minutes.
3. Have a meat-free day
There is strong evidence that eating a lot of red meat increases your risk of bowel cancer. One possible reason for this is that the compound that gives red meat its colour, haem, may damage the lining of the bowel.
We also have strong evidence that processed meats (e.g. bacon, ham) are a cause of bowel cancer. When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) can be formed.
These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer.
One way to cut down is to make one day a meat-free day - try being vegetarian for the day, or make fish the star of your meal.
4. Make vegetables and wholegrains the star of the plate
Wholegrains, pulses and vegetables tend to be low in calories and high in fibre, which helps fill you up and manage your weight.
Eating plenty of fibre also reduces your risk of bowel cancer. Fill at least two thirds of your plate with foods like vegetables, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, lentils and beans, and one third or less with lean meat, fish or lower fat dairy foods.
5. Swap sugary drinks for diet versions (or add fruit/ cucumber to sparkling water)
Fizzy drinks often contain so much sugar, and this can lead to weight gain. After not smoking, being a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to reduce your cancer risk.
Swap the sugary drinks for the diet versions to help control weight, which can help reduce cancer risk.
6. Be a home baker
Shop-bought cakes are often higher in fat and sugar than homemade varieties, which can lead to weight gain. We could prevent about one in six of cancer cases – more than 23,100 cases a year – if we were all a healthy weight.
You can save calories by baking a healthier version, and using wholewheat flour. If you don’t always have time to bake, buy mini varieties of muffins and cakes to share with friends and family instead of the full-sized versions.
7. Find a fun physical activity
Pick an exercise or activity that you find fun, as you’re more likely to stick with it - that way you can regularly get 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
We could prevent about one in nine cases of bowel and breast cancers just by being more active, and we recommend being active for at least half an hour per day.
Physical activity also helps us stay a healthy weight. This is really important because if you’re overweight, you have a higher risk of 10 cancers.
Sign up to I CAN… for more easy cancer prevention lifestyle tips.