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  • Health & Medicine

The causes of cancer you can control

by Jess Kirby | Analysis

7 December 2011

53 comments 53 comments

Can cancer be prevented? Decades of research have shown that a person’s chances of getting cancer depends on a mishmash of their genes and their environment, but also certain aspects of their lives, many of which they can control.

Today saw the publication of a landmark Cancer Research UK-funded review by Professor Max Parkin, outlining the latest evidence behind the preventable causes of UK cancers.

As our press release says, these latest calculations, based on predicted cases  for 2010, show that smoking, diet, alcohol and obesity are behind more than 100,000 cancers. This is equivalent to one third of all cancers diagnosed in the UK each year.

And this figure further increases to around 134,000 when taking into account all 14 lifestyle and environmental risk factors analysed in this study.

There’s more in-depth information about the statistics on our website, and our healthy living pages explain the take-home messages from the research.

But to help make sense of the vast quantity of information contained in the 91-page report, we’ve also put together a graphic that shows the proportion of cancers that can be prevented through lifestyle changes. It’s worth spending a minute or so looking at the key to understand how to interpret the graphic (which you can download as a larger PDF version).

Attributable risk infographic

Information is power

Providing this type of information is categorically not about blame – every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, and each of them have a unique set of circumstances that led to their cancer. There are many things that together affect a person’s chances of developing cancer – some of them can be controlled, some can’t.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is not a cast-iron guarantee against cancer. But it reduces the risk of the disease. If you think about cancer risk like a hand of cards, some people are dealt a worse hand because of their genes, some people a better one.

But in both cases, these people can do things to reduce their individual risk of cancer. So this type of information is crucial in equipping people with the information they need to stack the odds in their favour.

Such information is also crucial to guide policymakers in planning public health interventions. For instance, decades of work documenting the risks of smoking tobacco and the benefits of giving up – much of it by our scientists – has contributed to increased acceptance of tobacco as a major health hazard and led to many successful tobacco control measures.

We’re now starting to see the effects of these policies in lung cancer rates amongst UK men. But there’s more work still to do.

Bah humbug?

We’re also aware of the irony of publishing this research just before Christmas, when many of us enjoy one too many mince pies, or a few too many glasses of mulled wine. In our press release, we explain that we’re not expecting everyone to watch what they eat and limit alcohol intake during the festive season, and we don’t want people to feel guilty about indulging a bit more than usual.

Rather than focus on short-term behaviour changes, healthy living is about long-term lifestyle tweaks that can really make a difference. Regularly taking the stairs rather than using the lift, drinking a couple fewer beers or wines every week, eating a little more fruit, etc.

Incorporating a series of such healthy behaviours into your daily life can make a significant difference to your future risk of cancer.

What you need to know

Finally, below we’ve pulled together some of the important information you need to know about the 14 lifestyle and environmental risk factors analysed in this study:

  • Tobacco – although the number of smokers has fallen dramatically over the last 30 years, and lung cancer rates have fallen too, UK smoking rates have stagnated over recent years at around 22 per cent. We’re doing all we can to help people quit and protect children from the influences that lead them to become smokers. That’s why we’re campaigning for plain packaging – so that young children won’t be exposed to the tobacco industry’s last marketing channel.
  • Overweight – obesity and being overweight was the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK in the new study. Despite this, people are still unaware that their weight can have such a strong influence on their cancer risk. In a Cancer Research UK survey, only 3 per cent of people named obesity as something that can increase cancer risk. We’re using campaigns like Active Fat to help people understand that keeping a healthy weight can really help reduce the risk.
  • Fruit and vegetables – the reason fruit and veg come out so highly in this analysis is probably that many people in the UK eat fewer than their recommended 5 portions a day. Fruit and veg are an important source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, but don’t rely on supplements to get the nutrients you need – they haven’t been shown to reduce cancer risk and, in some cases, they may be harmful.
  • Alcohol – you don’t have to cut out alcohol completely to reduce the risk of cancer – the more you cut down, the more you can reduce the risk. You could try tracking your drinking for a few weeks, to see how much alcohol you really drink – many people underestimate the amount. Use our drinks tracker or download the NHS app on your iPhone or android device.
  • Occupation – some people are more at risk of cancer as a result of chemicals or practices used in their occupations. But improved safety in the workplace means fewer people will be at risk now than in the past. If you’re concerned about your work environment, talk to your managers or you could contact the Health and Safety Executive.
  • Sunlight and sunbeds – getting too much exposure to UV light, whether from the sun or sunbeds, is the main cause of skin cancers. And rates of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are rising fast. Cancer Research UK runs SunSmart, a national skin cancer prevention campaign, to help people know what they can do to reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancers. At the moment, we’re running ‘R UV UGLY?’, which offers sunbed users the chance to see what’s really going on in their skin. Find out more and take part on our facebook page.
  • Infections – in the UK, human papillomavirus, or HPV, is behind the most cancers, followed by Helicobacter pylori, which causes stomach cancer. Girls aged 12-13 are now vaccinated against the two most common cancer-causing types of HPV, which means rates of cervical cancer should decline substantially in the near future
  • Red and processed meat – red meat is any fresh, minced or frozen beef, pork, lamb or veal. And processed meat means anything that’s been preserved (apart from by freezing) – so it includes salami, bacon, ham and sausages. Eating small amounts of these meats won’t have a huge effect on cancer risk, but it’s a good idea to limit your intake to only a couple of times a week. Here’s a post from our archives about how red meat might increase the risk of bowel cancer.
  • Radiation – we’re all exposed to natural background radiation all the time, from the earth and from space. And occasionally we are exposed to higher doses, such as from X-rays, radiotherapy or travelling by aeroplane.
  • Fibre – eating a high-fibre diet can reduce the risk of bowel cancer – it helps speed up food passing through the digestive system, and dilutes waste food, so that cancer-causing chemicals in our food aren’t in contact with the bowel wall for so long.
  • Physical activity – being active not only helps you keep a healthy weight, but also reduces cancer risk by itself. But you don’t have to slog it out in the gym for hours a day – just 30 minutes of moderate activity on 5 days a week gives you the benefit. And even small bits of activity throughout the day add up.
  • Not breast feeding – breast feeding babies has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer – so if you’re able to, and not everyone is, it’s a good idea to try to keep it up for 6 months.
  • Salt – high-salt diets can increase the risk of stomach cancer, but other factors like the common bacterial infection Helicobacter pylori and smoking also play an important role.
  • Hormone replacement therapy – HRT is an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, but it can increase the risk of cancer. If you’re considering starting or stopping HRT, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

Jess and Olly

Reference
DM Parkin (2011). The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010 British Journal of Cancer, 105 (Supplement 2)


    Comments

  • Dr Pushkar
    13 February 2012

    The more we get closer the more it goes away from us. We are still trying to find correlations with diet, lifestyle… the fact remains ther are so many cases which remain unexplained. And the effect of preventive measures is a hit & miss.

  • Shell
    5 January 2012

    I have the biggest amount of sympathy for all cancer sufferers on here and understand and appreciate each and every one of you and your illnesses but this is just an article. Its not pointing a finger at you saying you caused your own illness! Whether you smoke, eat red meat, are exposed to mobile phones, radiation, etc, any one of us can develop cancer. What about young babies who have it? They dont smoke, etc. Treat the article as an interesting piece of self help advice and appreciate the research these guys are doing to try and help, people!!!

  • D Royd
    5 January 2012

    I just want to comment that this is an interesting graphic. The attribution of ‘blame’ in the diagnosis of cancer is irrelevant to the successful treatment of the patient. Also, having peer reviewed, published studies on the evidence of cancer cell apotosis induced via cannabis derivatives will never happen due to the wall-to-wall silence of mainstream medicine with regards to an un-patentable and therefore unprofitable natural plant.

  • Hidom Guo
    5 January 2012

    Dear Henry,
    We’d like to publish this information graphics on our magazine?
    How could get your assess?
    Thank you in advance!

  • Rebekah
    13 December 2011

    I too am a non smoking non drinking vegetarian with an active life style who is not overweight and had an extremely low risk of cancer. I was diagnosed two years ago with breast cancer. Since then I have added to my usual diet extra cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, sprouts, pak choi, broccolli and button mushrooms which protect people from breast cancer and got rid of things like sunflower oil and anything cooked in it as it contains high doses of omega 6 which feed breast cancer. Recently sunflower oil has replaced fat in so many things that I wonder if this is relevant to the rise in breast cancer.
    Oh and one more thing – you can say no to treatment that has huge side effects – look at the percentage rates of a cancer return if you do take the drug and then if you don’t you may discover that like me the difference is negligable, Arimidex would only improve my chances of a cancer free future by about 3%. I chose not to become a ninety year old and have lived my life as normal as a result.

    The most important thing though is to stay positive having cancer is not an automatic death sentence. However my main concern is that yes we have more effective treatments for cancer but we don’t want treatment, we want cures. Also so many cancer treatments have horrendous and unacceptable side effects. One good example is the range of hormone suppressors which work by removing oestrogen from the body. It is now the norm that if you have breast cancer you will be put on arimidex, it’s side effect is to give you the skeleton of a ninety year old complete with all the aches and pains and the brittle bones. Yes the treatments may (I say may as often they don’t work) stop your cancer coming back or going somewhere else so it won’t kill you but you’ll certainly feel like death from the side effects. Cures not treatments!

  • Andrea
    13 December 2011

    I’ve had breast cancer followd by all the different treatments. I’m still within the 5 year time frame, so am still taking the relevant medication. I’m extremely grateful for all the wonderful treatments available now. However, I would like to say that none of the 7 risk factors associated with BC apply to me, and I have never smoked either.

  • WandaK
    13 December 2011

    We have so many information about cancer. When my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer she decided to get chemo. She used so many extra natural remedies that helped her. I wish that I knew about VitaminB17 which I am taking to prevent developing cancer in my body.

  • David
    10 December 2011

    And where is STRESS and emotional/psychological trauma in all this? I accept the findings as they are presented, but you have missed out a fundamental element of not only contemporary society but a crucial aspect of all human relationship problems and day to day issues that we all face. You really need much more comprehensive information than you have produced so far before you can make any claims as to what is ‘preventable’.

  • M. Langer
    10 December 2011

    Some of the results of this so-called study are downright wrong, as they are taken from already flawed data. And the largest cause of cancer is not even on the list. Time. Time is the biggest risk – as we age, our organs, and our immune system slowly become less effective. It’s a natural progress. We are not, and are not supposed to be, immortal. Why are there more people dying of cancer today than a century ago? Why has it become one of the leading causes of death? Because today, we have a much better chance of living to the old age when cancer usually becomes an issue (not saying that it cannot happen earlier, but the majority of cancer patients are, in fact, well over 60). Oh, but don’t thank your doctor for that – thank your plumber. At least 2/3 of the increase in life expectancy is not due to medicine, but to having access to clean drinking water.

  • James Goldsmith
    10 December 2011

    Six years ago, Having NEVER smoked, NEVER taken drugs, only drunk alcohol in moderation/socilally and NEVER at home and exercised by swimming and cycling, I contracted Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and live an area previously contaminated by industrial fallout and adjacent to a waste dump site. Yet I am being told to watch my weight, what I eat and make sure I exercise sufficiently. My question is, CAN WE PLEASE HAVE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CANCERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND THEREFORE BE ABLE MORE OBJECTIVELY TO JUDGE WHAT ACTUALLY TRIGGERS CANCERS IN OUR BODIES. WE ARE NOT BEING GIVEN THE FULL PICTURE FROM A RESEARCH POINT OF VIEW. AND THIS MAKES ME VERY ANGRY. WE ARE MADE TO FEEL THAT IF WE CATCH A CANCER THEN IT IS SOMETHING WE COULD HAVE AVOIDED IF WE HAD DONE MORE OF THE THINGS POPULAR RESEARCH ADVOCATES. THOSE WHO MAY HAVE BEEN THE REAL CULPRITS ARE SKULKING IN DARK CORNERS SOMEWHERE AND NOT BEING HELD TO ACCOUNT

  • bob wilson
    10 December 2011

    i belive the chemnoble disaster as increased the amount of all cases of cancer

  • Jane
    10 December 2011

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at the age of 47. I have been a vegetarian for 35 years, never smoked, have drank small amounts of alcohol, breastfed both my children and have kept myself fit by swimming, cycling and going to the gym. I have always been a size 10- 12. There is no family history of breast cancer.
    However, I believe my healthy lifestyle has helped me tremendously throughtout the treatment. I was able to work throughout the chemotherapy and have continued my busy life as normal.

  • David Jenkin
    9 December 2011

    I am a personal trainer and exercise referral programme consultant (working with medical conditions). I started my own cancer exercise rehabilitation programme in September, and it has gone very, very well. In fact we have received NHS funding for four more programmes in 2012.

    My point is, that during this time it has been my pleasure to meet such a cross-section of people who come to my free exercise classes. Some younger, some older, all of different levels of pre-diagnosis fitness, different ways of life etc, there has been no common factor between any of them besides of course their diagnosis.

    I think the report was badly worded, it should have described how poor lifestyle decisions can increase cancer risk rather than assign causal blame for those already afflicted. Most would not argue with the former, the latter is naturally very contentious.

    Finally, one of the members of my first programme told me in the warm-up how it had been on the news somewhere that ‘dark chocolate is now as good for you as going for a jog!’ Luckily they all saw it for the twaddle that it is, but I do worry about some of the research findings and their implication for miseducation

  • Jackie
    9 December 2011

    I had breast cancer grade 3 aggreseive nine years ago – I had chemo, radio and surgery. I was not overweight had had three children never smoked and rarely drank. Not sure about all these causes where people are blamed for not looking after themselves.Si nce my treatments I have gained weight whcih I never seem to lose despite doing four hours a week exercise. I have recently retired.

  • E Morawiecka
    9 December 2011

    Like many others I felt guilty enough having bowel cancer at 42 despite growing alot of our own veg, exercising, cycling.walking just the occasional drink and never smoking and actually being under weight for my height. I know this is good advice for many but it is not the reason quite alot of people, especially younger people, are diagnosed with cancer. Like many others I think there are other factors at work here. It could be in the exposure to chemicals during studying chemistry, etc during my school days, many of which are now banned as being carcinogenic, or due to stress; or due to infections which I see can be a factor. It only needs something to switch of that bit of your immune system for you to start developing cancer. The only sibling in my family not to get an early form of bowel cancer (not seen in any other generations) is the one who is an alcoholic and smokes like a chimney! She studied English while the other 3 of us studied the sciences to A’level and beyond. Perhaps the warning to school children studying sciences needs to be updated?

  • CLAIRE
    9 December 2011

    so far all i have to do is give up smoking. and hope and pray.
    however i did have helicobacter which the doctors took 6 uninterested months to diagnose. it took another year for me to recover from a chronic fissure caused by the effects of helicobacter and doctors still didnt seem concerned. at no point did they explain the implications in relation to cancer and i only know because i researched on my own on the internet. i am now only 30 and still have to carefully deal with digestive problems which did not exist before. There is very little awareness even now of helicobacter and i feel that doctors {i saw many] are just not interested in such a tiny seemingly simple bug.
    And yes i am still angry that i was put through so much pain and anguish for so long and now have to worry about the future consequences.
    i will however give up smoking. i will i will i will!

  • john nicholson
    9 December 2011

    Life-style links to cancer is really valuable information. Might stop people being fatalistic. Hope so.

  • Paul Lewis
    9 December 2011

    Where are the references to mobile phones, electro magnetic fields, chemicals and food additives.

    Also I dont see much research being done with hemp, B17, and sodium bicarbonate to name just a few.

    Some people may wish to view the films run from the cure and the beutiful truth to learn how cures are suppressed if they cant be patented.

  • Jemma
    9 December 2011

    I can’t believe how many people are completely missing the point of this. Do you not understand that the idea here is to help people make healthy decisions? Anyone who immediately thinks ‘it’s your fault’ if you have cancer isn’t worth considering anyway!

    If there is a group of cancer sufferers who have stigma attached to them, it’s those with lung cancer. I don’t think that any other group has to go through the same amount of victim blaming that they do. However, this article isn’t about that at all.

    I for one find this very helpful and I’m glad that you posted it. It’s showed me I’m on the right track.

    I would love to see more research done into food and whether organics can help, but having a ‘risk factor’ style graphic shows you what your priorities should be.

  • Prof. 'Fola Tayo
    9 December 2011

    Please permit me to suggest the translation of this material into other languages. The UK has suddenly become a multi-lingual society and I am sure this message will greater a greater reach if this is done.

    Just a suggestion.

    Thank you.

    ‘Fola Tayo

  • Frank Paterson
    9 December 2011

    Since my wife died from cancer 16 years ago I have donated regularly to cancer research uk and several other cancer charities. For those 16 years you have preached the same message ,presumably based on more and more research. The responses on your blog are very revealing and have led me to the conclusion that further research on the significance of nutrition will not be cost effective. You have done a good job but I’m now going to transfer my donations to a charity sponsoring research into treatments.

  • reply
    Kat Arney
    9 December 2011

    Hi Frank,
    Thank you for your comment, and we are sorry to hear about your wife.

    We would like to point out that research into the causes of cancer is just one part of our work. You may be interested to know that last year we spent £90 million on clinical research directly investigating more effective ways to treat cancer, and more than £70 million on developing and testing new cancer drugs.

    You can read more about our research into different aspects of cancer treatment on our website:
    Chemotherapy and hormone therapy research: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/ChemotherapyResearch/
    Radiotherapy research: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/RadiotherapyResearch/
    Drug development: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/drugdevelopment/
    Surgery: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/our-research-into-surgery/
    Immunotherapy: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/immunotherapy/
    Personalised medicine: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/personalised-medicine-research/

    Best wishes,
    Kat

    Science Information Manager

  • linda
    9 December 2011

    What about young children and animals who get cancer – I think it is wrong to put ‘blame’ on people’s bad lifestyle choices for causing the disease. It is probably more to do with the unseen threats to our health in the form of all the energy surrounding us from the likes of mobile phones, tv and radio waves etc.

  • akfilm
    9 December 2011

    You need to think carefully about what language you use in such reports. The word ’causes’ carries a big weight and implies blame. This ’causes’ a lot of upset, guilt, anger etc for people with cancer. Read our forums if you want to know how much damage can be done by carelessly used language. ‘Contributing factors’ perhaps? The danger is that such reports and the way they are headlined in the media feeds the ignorance of people around us without cancer and can affect our relationships with them. Not what we need at all, I can tell you. Language is a powerful tool and needs to be thought about very carefully.

  • Munroie
    9 December 2011

    Ok, so 40% is down to lifestyle factors – what is the other 60% caused by. I suspect that the chemicals in our society are a massive cause. They’re are everywhere in the house, work, gardens and in the air we breathe. Some of them are very difficult to break down in the body, causing the body to store them, and over time they turn cancerous in some people.

  • Rosalin
    9 December 2011

    I was sooo pleased to read the above comments as I now feel I am not alone in believing that this “campaign” has a hidden agenda. Like Eileen and all the others above – I drank very little alcohol…..always the “designated driver”; 5’6″ and 68.5 k. Yes,I have always held an office job and didn’t go out of my way to exercise- but did crash sessions for family celebrations, etc. Why me? Previously I have never bothered too much about the cause….just got on with the treatment and getting back to normal !!!! Now…… should I have lived my life differently….. gone on benefits instead of working hard all my life ????

  • Eileen Carter
    9 December 2011

    I have been a long time vegetarian, I have never smoked. I may drink one glass of wine at a celebration. I am skinny.I walk my dogs miles most days.
    So why have I had bowel cancer?.
    May I say a big thank you to everyone involved in cancer care, I am clear at present.THANK YOU.

  • Denny Morris
    9 December 2011

    There is no mention of car fumes which I have read somewhere are the greater cause of lung cancer especially. Are statistics going to be released here. A higher proportion of people in their 40’s and 50’s seem to be dying of cancer recently – surprisingly all the friends I have lost have been non-smokers and healthy living……….

  • Kerry Taylor
    9 December 2011

    What about a study into all the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. Through food packaging, plastics, toiletries, cleaning products etc. after following a healthy diet of low meat, 5 fruit & veg a day, breast feeding all 3 of my children up to 1 year, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight, I still have breast cancer. I can only point to carcinogens in our environment as a major contributing factor. More research needs to be done in this area ASAP.

  • Anne
    9 December 2011

    I think there is a political angle to this in that governments always think that handing out “lifestyle advice” is a cheap option for the NHS.
    (Much cheaper than treating people!) Unfortunately I don’t think it will be the cure-all they hope for. Clearly, genetics, environmental influences and just plain luck account for the majority of cancers. Sheer longevity means that inevitably, more and more people will get cancer, no matter how healthily they live.

  • Ann Baxter
    9 December 2011

    I totally agree that these reports make people feel like they have caused their own cancers. I had kidney cancer two years ago. I have never smoked, get lots of exercise, eat healthy and I am certainly not over weight. You have enough negative feelings when being diagnosed so these reports just make things worse. I agree that people should take more care of their health generally but it should have been reported in a different way.

  • Jim Goldsmith
    9 December 2011

    Food manufacturing companies are out to make money. OK so what’s wrong with that. Well they do not make money when people are not eating. What do they do. They fill their products with crap such as fat and salt artificial colourings and flavourings. But this **** does not nourish the body. The body still craves more food and people go back to the store to buy more of the crap. The food companies bank account fills up but the customers body doesnt. We become obese and develop illnesses from lack of good dietary ingredients. The companies sell the right sort of food as well but keep its prices sky high so that unless you are prepared to take out a mortgage every time you go shopping you fall into the trap these rogue companies set for you to deprive you of your hard earned money. The governmental agencies should simply prohibit this practice ensuring that the healthy food is drastically reduced in price and that food companies are prohibited from designing their food products to depend on taste alone. Sell by, best buy, use by dates should be banned. They cause massive food waste. By causing people to throw away food which still may be good and go back to the store to spend more money. If obesity causes cancer this is why. We are made to keep eating the ‘tasty foods’ rich in cheap ingredients like salt fat and sugar and MADE to steer clear of those foods that will actually NOURISH us

  • Ann
    9 December 2011

    Surely everything in moderation is the key, life is made of memories, a glass of wine and meal with friends, holidays eating ice cream erc..or a few beers before a football match etc..no one should be made to feel guilty for living and enjoying their life, but I don’t think the research is pointing to that for one minute, just educating us to make our own decisions. Cancer is the worst disease ever and to watch someone you love fade away before your eyes is something you can never recover from. I watched my lovely Dad go through this, but he enjoyed every minute of his life, swam a mile every day, but also enjoyed a few pints of beer and Sunday roasts etc..which I intend to do, all in moderation of course.

  • phil
    9 December 2011

    I’m a train driver by trade and the orbits coloumn in our monthly journal gives most causes of death unless privacy is requested.My point is an average of 60% of train drivers get cancer and die from it.We’re sat in front of a huge diesel engine with 3 genorators,6 traction motors and all the electronics to make them work.Then a lot of the time we’re below the high voltage overhead lines.After a shift in the cab with the electronic cabinets my skin feels greasy as if it’s trying too protect me from the electro magnetic fields which I do no get in the smaller cab at the other end.
    The BT Infinity advert shows how much energy is flowing through our homes etc.Add to this modern lifestyles and ok we’re living longer but poisoning ourselves along the way?

  • peter killick
    9 December 2011

    I have always eaten a healthy diet and have always been involved with sport playing football, cricket and squash and long distance running, and until the last two years was walking 8 miles 5 days a week in 2 hours and i got Prostrate cancer so as far as i see it it is not always the life style you live that causes it.

  • Rosamond Farr
    9 December 2011

    I found this article very interesting and helpful. I have an issue regarding fruit in ulster. We pay high prices for fruit and very often the fruit is past its best by the time it reaches the supermarket shelves, this must have an impact also on causes of cancer?

  • Sue
    9 December 2011

    We all know people who have lived a fit and healthy life who have subsequently died from cancer (my 46 year old husband) and the reverse. This evidence is not putting blame on anyone it is just allowing people to consider which risks they are willing / not wiling to take. We make such decisions everyday of our life. I will get in my car to go to work even though it increases my chance of being killed in a car crash but I will wear my seat belt and travel at an appropriate speed to increase the chance of me surviving a car crash etc.

  • Pam
    9 December 2011

    I find that the scientific evidence just leaves me with more questions than answers. It is very easy to say that ‘lifestyle influences cancer’ but as a non smoking vegetarian who has had a very healthy exercise regime for a very long time I am doubtful of the conclusions and would ask who is paying you. I have always supported cancer research but I am loosing faith in the research because it is way too generalised and is generated in a way that I find totally suspect and very judgemental.

  • john pickering
    8 December 2011

    i had a kidney removed nearlly 4 years ago i was told on jan 13 this year that it had spread to my lymph nodes liver sturnam pelvis right kidney spine i now have a sub carinal mass that will not respond to treatment my days on this planet are numbered live at this moment in time for me is crap the chemo tablets they have put me on are destroying my quality of life and i’ve had enough

  • Alan
    8 December 2011

    My wife and Iboth lost our previous partners through cancer in spite of all four of us having had healthy lifestyles with no smoking, plenty of exercise and only social drinking.
    I am covinced that long term a major cause of cancers will be found to be the carcinogens to which we are all subjected in our every day lives irrespective of our wanting to be or not. Having said that I fully agree that a healthy lfestyle and balanced diet with good food reduces the risk of the disease.

  • Pan Pantziarka
    8 December 2011

    The reporting of this study is definitely tinged with a moralistic streak that says 40% of cancer patients have only got themselves to blame. That’s simply not what this study says.

    For a discussion on this take a look at: http://www.anticancer.org.uk/2011/12/cancer-and-lifestyle-choices.html

    People need to remember that this study is a mathematical projection, it’s not based on real patients and what’s happened to them.

  • Lisajane Gooden
    8 December 2011

    Although some people can affect their chances of developing cancer; This latest barrage in the press is somewhat upsetting. Do cancer patients not feel guilty enough? I have a BRAC1 gene and having had breast cancer twice, I spent many years pre genetic counselling wondering what I did or could have done to avoid my cancer. The answer was nothing; I breast fed 3 children, have never smoked, have a healthy BMI, don’t drink and I’m a vegetarian. The answers are just not that straightforward.

  • Kevan Gelling
    8 December 2011

    Here’s my beef:

    So fruit/veg reduce head and neck cancers by 4%, red meat reduces bowel cancer by 8% but vitamin D reduces bowel cancer by a massive 40%.

    The evidence for vitamin D is as good as if not better then many of the lifestyle factors listed above, so why is it missing.

    And vitamin D protects against infections and melonoma and is affected by linked to obesity, alcohol and smoking. After smoking it may the single biggest factor in increased cancer risk.

  • Anne
    8 December 2011

    I agree with many sufferers here. I’ve been donating to Cancer Research UK for many years, but also now feel I’m just being blamed for my condition. I lead a healthy lifestyle, and breast fed both my babies. I have an older sister who never had babies, drinks heavily and has been obese since adolecence. Guess which one of us has breast cancer?
    There’s much made here of weight being “responsible” (how do they know?) for 7% of cancers. Not enough emphasis on the fact that this means it has nothing to do with the other 93%!
    I also wonder why my oncologist wants me to take Tamoxifen, a drug which is notorious for making patients put on lots of weight. If weight is such a risk factor, why give women with breast cancer something which makes them fat??

  • Diane
    7 December 2011

    Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in June and undergone two surgeries and now having chemotherapy I feel I have gone through enough,with more still to come, without now being blamed for having caused my own cancer. I feel ashamed, like I have heaped sorrow onto my family and friends and it is all my fault.

  • Kevan Gelling
    7 December 2011

    Fruit & veg – “limited evidence” and “inadequate evidence” from your BJC research – http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v105/n2s/full/bjc2011477a.html. How is it 3rd in the list ?

    Also in the UK, sausages are not ‘processed’

  • John anthony courbus
    7 December 2011

    i am doing a science case study and have learnt about how the lungs work and how it can cause cancer and this website has most definatley raised my awairness of cancer and the implecations of smoking.

  • Elliot
    7 December 2011

    That is a disgraceful attempt at down playing carcinogens in our day to day life. We’re being openly poisoned and if our immune system is suffering for whatever reason whether it’s lack of Iodine or Vitamins then Cancer has a chance of breaking through.

    It’s not just about eating right. Learn what’s in your shower gel, toothpaste, how wireless internet and cell phones effect the body, the chemicals being sprayed in the air.

    Modern medicine will say none of the above can cause cancer. They refuse to acknowledge if a person is exposed to all of the above on a daily basis it’s going to have an effect.

  • Henry Scowcroft
    7 December 2011

    Thanks everyone for your comments, and our thoughts are with each and every one of you affected by cancer.

    There are still many individual cases of cancer that we can’t explain and for which there doesn’t seem to be any obvious lifestyle factor. So we want you to know that when we talk about changing lifestyle we are aiming to try and prevent cancer cases in the future, by making sure everyone knows what they can do to stack the odds in their favour.

    As we say in the blog post, this work and the publicity around it is categorically not about blame. Instead, it’s about helping individuals and policy makers understand the science behind reducing your risk of developing cancer. We know that healthy living is no guarantee against developing cancer, and there are still unknown reasons for why cancer develops. But we hope that some people will feel that having this knowledge will encourage them to make at least some simple, positive lifestyle changes that can help to reduce their cancer risk .

    The last thing we want to do is make people feel that getting cancer is their fault in some way, and we know that many cancers can’t be explained by lifestyle factors. But because research has shown that changing lifestyle can reduce the chances of people getting cancer we have a duty to let the public know this. Only in this way will fewer people have to go through the same things that many of you have.

    To address specific points, raised above:

    Elliot – you might find these pages on our main website of interest: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/cancercontroversies/

    Kevan – re. meat, you may find this of interest: http://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2007/11/12/how-does-red-meat-increase-bowel-cancer-risk/ re. fruit and vegetables, the current evidence suggests they’re less important than were thought a decade ago, but they’re still a factor, particularly for mouth and throat cancer, and possibly for lung cancer. And since not many people in the UK achieve 5 a day, even if the risk is smaller, it’ll affect more cases. Have a read: http://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2010/12/01/fruit-and-vegetables-are-good-for-general-health-but-have-little-effect-on-cancer/

    Henry
    Cancer Research UK

  • judith
    7 December 2011

    i agree with anne-marie and ellie. how can the research possibly show what ’causes’ cancer? none of the press reports explain that. i have breast cancer, have always had a healthy lifestyle, but say i was obese how would you know that the cancer was caused by my obesity rather than just coexisting. i have friends who are really overweight and drink and smoke etc who do not have cancer, i’m the yoga/cycling/vegetarian/meditating one who does. i understand using this research to try to change behaviour but without context it just ends up blaming those who are already struggling.

  • Kevan Gelling
    7 December 2011

    I though recent research had concluded that fruit and veg intake do little to prevent cancer and that it’s processed red meat not fresh red meat – so bacon, ham but not fresh sausages – which increases bowel cancer risk

  • Elliot
    7 December 2011

    Elise, do not feel it is your fault. There are so many carcinogenesis we’re exposed to on a daily basis. It’s most likely a collaboration of everything. From the drugs and radiation in our food and water, to the plastic containers which contain BPA and other poisons. All legalised by our so called food regulators.

  • Elise Willetts
    7 December 2011

    I agree with Ann Marie, I am recovering from bowel cancer and I too feel yet again it’s my own fault that I have had it, despite having always tried to comply with what you now suggest, healthy eating, exercise, no smoking or drinking in moderation. It doesn’t help to have these suggestions made.

  • Anne-Marie
    7 December 2011

    I have secondary BC and the way this has been reported in the press makes people like me feel – ‘here we go again, I’ve caused my own cancer’…

    Comments

  • Dr Pushkar
    13 February 2012

    The more we get closer the more it goes away from us. We are still trying to find correlations with diet, lifestyle… the fact remains ther are so many cases which remain unexplained. And the effect of preventive measures is a hit & miss.

  • Shell
    5 January 2012

    I have the biggest amount of sympathy for all cancer sufferers on here and understand and appreciate each and every one of you and your illnesses but this is just an article. Its not pointing a finger at you saying you caused your own illness! Whether you smoke, eat red meat, are exposed to mobile phones, radiation, etc, any one of us can develop cancer. What about young babies who have it? They dont smoke, etc. Treat the article as an interesting piece of self help advice and appreciate the research these guys are doing to try and help, people!!!

  • D Royd
    5 January 2012

    I just want to comment that this is an interesting graphic. The attribution of ‘blame’ in the diagnosis of cancer is irrelevant to the successful treatment of the patient. Also, having peer reviewed, published studies on the evidence of cancer cell apotosis induced via cannabis derivatives will never happen due to the wall-to-wall silence of mainstream medicine with regards to an un-patentable and therefore unprofitable natural plant.

  • Hidom Guo
    5 January 2012

    Dear Henry,
    We’d like to publish this information graphics on our magazine?
    How could get your assess?
    Thank you in advance!

  • Rebekah
    13 December 2011

    I too am a non smoking non drinking vegetarian with an active life style who is not overweight and had an extremely low risk of cancer. I was diagnosed two years ago with breast cancer. Since then I have added to my usual diet extra cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, sprouts, pak choi, broccolli and button mushrooms which protect people from breast cancer and got rid of things like sunflower oil and anything cooked in it as it contains high doses of omega 6 which feed breast cancer. Recently sunflower oil has replaced fat in so many things that I wonder if this is relevant to the rise in breast cancer.
    Oh and one more thing – you can say no to treatment that has huge side effects – look at the percentage rates of a cancer return if you do take the drug and then if you don’t you may discover that like me the difference is negligable, Arimidex would only improve my chances of a cancer free future by about 3%. I chose not to become a ninety year old and have lived my life as normal as a result.

    The most important thing though is to stay positive having cancer is not an automatic death sentence. However my main concern is that yes we have more effective treatments for cancer but we don’t want treatment, we want cures. Also so many cancer treatments have horrendous and unacceptable side effects. One good example is the range of hormone suppressors which work by removing oestrogen from the body. It is now the norm that if you have breast cancer you will be put on arimidex, it’s side effect is to give you the skeleton of a ninety year old complete with all the aches and pains and the brittle bones. Yes the treatments may (I say may as often they don’t work) stop your cancer coming back or going somewhere else so it won’t kill you but you’ll certainly feel like death from the side effects. Cures not treatments!

  • Andrea
    13 December 2011

    I’ve had breast cancer followd by all the different treatments. I’m still within the 5 year time frame, so am still taking the relevant medication. I’m extremely grateful for all the wonderful treatments available now. However, I would like to say that none of the 7 risk factors associated with BC apply to me, and I have never smoked either.

  • WandaK
    13 December 2011

    We have so many information about cancer. When my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer she decided to get chemo. She used so many extra natural remedies that helped her. I wish that I knew about VitaminB17 which I am taking to prevent developing cancer in my body.

  • David
    10 December 2011

    And where is STRESS and emotional/psychological trauma in all this? I accept the findings as they are presented, but you have missed out a fundamental element of not only contemporary society but a crucial aspect of all human relationship problems and day to day issues that we all face. You really need much more comprehensive information than you have produced so far before you can make any claims as to what is ‘preventable’.

  • M. Langer
    10 December 2011

    Some of the results of this so-called study are downright wrong, as they are taken from already flawed data. And the largest cause of cancer is not even on the list. Time. Time is the biggest risk – as we age, our organs, and our immune system slowly become less effective. It’s a natural progress. We are not, and are not supposed to be, immortal. Why are there more people dying of cancer today than a century ago? Why has it become one of the leading causes of death? Because today, we have a much better chance of living to the old age when cancer usually becomes an issue (not saying that it cannot happen earlier, but the majority of cancer patients are, in fact, well over 60). Oh, but don’t thank your doctor for that – thank your plumber. At least 2/3 of the increase in life expectancy is not due to medicine, but to having access to clean drinking water.

  • James Goldsmith
    10 December 2011

    Six years ago, Having NEVER smoked, NEVER taken drugs, only drunk alcohol in moderation/socilally and NEVER at home and exercised by swimming and cycling, I contracted Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and live an area previously contaminated by industrial fallout and adjacent to a waste dump site. Yet I am being told to watch my weight, what I eat and make sure I exercise sufficiently. My question is, CAN WE PLEASE HAVE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CANCERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND THEREFORE BE ABLE MORE OBJECTIVELY TO JUDGE WHAT ACTUALLY TRIGGERS CANCERS IN OUR BODIES. WE ARE NOT BEING GIVEN THE FULL PICTURE FROM A RESEARCH POINT OF VIEW. AND THIS MAKES ME VERY ANGRY. WE ARE MADE TO FEEL THAT IF WE CATCH A CANCER THEN IT IS SOMETHING WE COULD HAVE AVOIDED IF WE HAD DONE MORE OF THE THINGS POPULAR RESEARCH ADVOCATES. THOSE WHO MAY HAVE BEEN THE REAL CULPRITS ARE SKULKING IN DARK CORNERS SOMEWHERE AND NOT BEING HELD TO ACCOUNT

  • bob wilson
    10 December 2011

    i belive the chemnoble disaster as increased the amount of all cases of cancer

  • Jane
    10 December 2011

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at the age of 47. I have been a vegetarian for 35 years, never smoked, have drank small amounts of alcohol, breastfed both my children and have kept myself fit by swimming, cycling and going to the gym. I have always been a size 10- 12. There is no family history of breast cancer.
    However, I believe my healthy lifestyle has helped me tremendously throughtout the treatment. I was able to work throughout the chemotherapy and have continued my busy life as normal.

  • David Jenkin
    9 December 2011

    I am a personal trainer and exercise referral programme consultant (working with medical conditions). I started my own cancer exercise rehabilitation programme in September, and it has gone very, very well. In fact we have received NHS funding for four more programmes in 2012.

    My point is, that during this time it has been my pleasure to meet such a cross-section of people who come to my free exercise classes. Some younger, some older, all of different levels of pre-diagnosis fitness, different ways of life etc, there has been no common factor between any of them besides of course their diagnosis.

    I think the report was badly worded, it should have described how poor lifestyle decisions can increase cancer risk rather than assign causal blame for those already afflicted. Most would not argue with the former, the latter is naturally very contentious.

    Finally, one of the members of my first programme told me in the warm-up how it had been on the news somewhere that ‘dark chocolate is now as good for you as going for a jog!’ Luckily they all saw it for the twaddle that it is, but I do worry about some of the research findings and their implication for miseducation

  • Jackie
    9 December 2011

    I had breast cancer grade 3 aggreseive nine years ago – I had chemo, radio and surgery. I was not overweight had had three children never smoked and rarely drank. Not sure about all these causes where people are blamed for not looking after themselves.Si nce my treatments I have gained weight whcih I never seem to lose despite doing four hours a week exercise. I have recently retired.

  • E Morawiecka
    9 December 2011

    Like many others I felt guilty enough having bowel cancer at 42 despite growing alot of our own veg, exercising, cycling.walking just the occasional drink and never smoking and actually being under weight for my height. I know this is good advice for many but it is not the reason quite alot of people, especially younger people, are diagnosed with cancer. Like many others I think there are other factors at work here. It could be in the exposure to chemicals during studying chemistry, etc during my school days, many of which are now banned as being carcinogenic, or due to stress; or due to infections which I see can be a factor. It only needs something to switch of that bit of your immune system for you to start developing cancer. The only sibling in my family not to get an early form of bowel cancer (not seen in any other generations) is the one who is an alcoholic and smokes like a chimney! She studied English while the other 3 of us studied the sciences to A’level and beyond. Perhaps the warning to school children studying sciences needs to be updated?

  • CLAIRE
    9 December 2011

    so far all i have to do is give up smoking. and hope and pray.
    however i did have helicobacter which the doctors took 6 uninterested months to diagnose. it took another year for me to recover from a chronic fissure caused by the effects of helicobacter and doctors still didnt seem concerned. at no point did they explain the implications in relation to cancer and i only know because i researched on my own on the internet. i am now only 30 and still have to carefully deal with digestive problems which did not exist before. There is very little awareness even now of helicobacter and i feel that doctors {i saw many] are just not interested in such a tiny seemingly simple bug.
    And yes i am still angry that i was put through so much pain and anguish for so long and now have to worry about the future consequences.
    i will however give up smoking. i will i will i will!

  • john nicholson
    9 December 2011

    Life-style links to cancer is really valuable information. Might stop people being fatalistic. Hope so.

  • Paul Lewis
    9 December 2011

    Where are the references to mobile phones, electro magnetic fields, chemicals and food additives.

    Also I dont see much research being done with hemp, B17, and sodium bicarbonate to name just a few.

    Some people may wish to view the films run from the cure and the beutiful truth to learn how cures are suppressed if they cant be patented.

  • Jemma
    9 December 2011

    I can’t believe how many people are completely missing the point of this. Do you not understand that the idea here is to help people make healthy decisions? Anyone who immediately thinks ‘it’s your fault’ if you have cancer isn’t worth considering anyway!

    If there is a group of cancer sufferers who have stigma attached to them, it’s those with lung cancer. I don’t think that any other group has to go through the same amount of victim blaming that they do. However, this article isn’t about that at all.

    I for one find this very helpful and I’m glad that you posted it. It’s showed me I’m on the right track.

    I would love to see more research done into food and whether organics can help, but having a ‘risk factor’ style graphic shows you what your priorities should be.

  • Prof. 'Fola Tayo
    9 December 2011

    Please permit me to suggest the translation of this material into other languages. The UK has suddenly become a multi-lingual society and I am sure this message will greater a greater reach if this is done.

    Just a suggestion.

    Thank you.

    ‘Fola Tayo

  • Frank Paterson
    9 December 2011

    Since my wife died from cancer 16 years ago I have donated regularly to cancer research uk and several other cancer charities. For those 16 years you have preached the same message ,presumably based on more and more research. The responses on your blog are very revealing and have led me to the conclusion that further research on the significance of nutrition will not be cost effective. You have done a good job but I’m now going to transfer my donations to a charity sponsoring research into treatments.

  • reply
    Kat Arney
    9 December 2011

    Hi Frank,
    Thank you for your comment, and we are sorry to hear about your wife.

    We would like to point out that research into the causes of cancer is just one part of our work. You may be interested to know that last year we spent £90 million on clinical research directly investigating more effective ways to treat cancer, and more than £70 million on developing and testing new cancer drugs.

    You can read more about our research into different aspects of cancer treatment on our website:
    Chemotherapy and hormone therapy research: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/ChemotherapyResearch/
    Radiotherapy research: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/RadiotherapyResearch/
    Drug development: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/drugdevelopment/
    Surgery: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/our-research-into-surgery/
    Immunotherapy: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/immunotherapy/
    Personalised medicine: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerandresearch/ourcurrentresearch/topic/personalised-medicine-research/

    Best wishes,
    Kat

    Science Information Manager

  • linda
    9 December 2011

    What about young children and animals who get cancer – I think it is wrong to put ‘blame’ on people’s bad lifestyle choices for causing the disease. It is probably more to do with the unseen threats to our health in the form of all the energy surrounding us from the likes of mobile phones, tv and radio waves etc.

  • akfilm
    9 December 2011

    You need to think carefully about what language you use in such reports. The word ’causes’ carries a big weight and implies blame. This ’causes’ a lot of upset, guilt, anger etc for people with cancer. Read our forums if you want to know how much damage can be done by carelessly used language. ‘Contributing factors’ perhaps? The danger is that such reports and the way they are headlined in the media feeds the ignorance of people around us without cancer and can affect our relationships with them. Not what we need at all, I can tell you. Language is a powerful tool and needs to be thought about very carefully.

  • Munroie
    9 December 2011

    Ok, so 40% is down to lifestyle factors – what is the other 60% caused by. I suspect that the chemicals in our society are a massive cause. They’re are everywhere in the house, work, gardens and in the air we breathe. Some of them are very difficult to break down in the body, causing the body to store them, and over time they turn cancerous in some people.

  • Rosalin
    9 December 2011

    I was sooo pleased to read the above comments as I now feel I am not alone in believing that this “campaign” has a hidden agenda. Like Eileen and all the others above – I drank very little alcohol…..always the “designated driver”; 5’6″ and 68.5 k. Yes,I have always held an office job and didn’t go out of my way to exercise- but did crash sessions for family celebrations, etc. Why me? Previously I have never bothered too much about the cause….just got on with the treatment and getting back to normal !!!! Now…… should I have lived my life differently….. gone on benefits instead of working hard all my life ????

  • Eileen Carter
    9 December 2011

    I have been a long time vegetarian, I have never smoked. I may drink one glass of wine at a celebration. I am skinny.I walk my dogs miles most days.
    So why have I had bowel cancer?.
    May I say a big thank you to everyone involved in cancer care, I am clear at present.THANK YOU.

  • Denny Morris
    9 December 2011

    There is no mention of car fumes which I have read somewhere are the greater cause of lung cancer especially. Are statistics going to be released here. A higher proportion of people in their 40’s and 50’s seem to be dying of cancer recently – surprisingly all the friends I have lost have been non-smokers and healthy living……….

  • Kerry Taylor
    9 December 2011

    What about a study into all the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. Through food packaging, plastics, toiletries, cleaning products etc. after following a healthy diet of low meat, 5 fruit & veg a day, breast feeding all 3 of my children up to 1 year, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight, I still have breast cancer. I can only point to carcinogens in our environment as a major contributing factor. More research needs to be done in this area ASAP.

  • Anne
    9 December 2011

    I think there is a political angle to this in that governments always think that handing out “lifestyle advice” is a cheap option for the NHS.
    (Much cheaper than treating people!) Unfortunately I don’t think it will be the cure-all they hope for. Clearly, genetics, environmental influences and just plain luck account for the majority of cancers. Sheer longevity means that inevitably, more and more people will get cancer, no matter how healthily they live.

  • Ann Baxter
    9 December 2011

    I totally agree that these reports make people feel like they have caused their own cancers. I had kidney cancer two years ago. I have never smoked, get lots of exercise, eat healthy and I am certainly not over weight. You have enough negative feelings when being diagnosed so these reports just make things worse. I agree that people should take more care of their health generally but it should have been reported in a different way.

  • Jim Goldsmith
    9 December 2011

    Food manufacturing companies are out to make money. OK so what’s wrong with that. Well they do not make money when people are not eating. What do they do. They fill their products with crap such as fat and salt artificial colourings and flavourings. But this **** does not nourish the body. The body still craves more food and people go back to the store to buy more of the crap. The food companies bank account fills up but the customers body doesnt. We become obese and develop illnesses from lack of good dietary ingredients. The companies sell the right sort of food as well but keep its prices sky high so that unless you are prepared to take out a mortgage every time you go shopping you fall into the trap these rogue companies set for you to deprive you of your hard earned money. The governmental agencies should simply prohibit this practice ensuring that the healthy food is drastically reduced in price and that food companies are prohibited from designing their food products to depend on taste alone. Sell by, best buy, use by dates should be banned. They cause massive food waste. By causing people to throw away food which still may be good and go back to the store to spend more money. If obesity causes cancer this is why. We are made to keep eating the ‘tasty foods’ rich in cheap ingredients like salt fat and sugar and MADE to steer clear of those foods that will actually NOURISH us

  • Ann
    9 December 2011

    Surely everything in moderation is the key, life is made of memories, a glass of wine and meal with friends, holidays eating ice cream erc..or a few beers before a football match etc..no one should be made to feel guilty for living and enjoying their life, but I don’t think the research is pointing to that for one minute, just educating us to make our own decisions. Cancer is the worst disease ever and to watch someone you love fade away before your eyes is something you can never recover from. I watched my lovely Dad go through this, but he enjoyed every minute of his life, swam a mile every day, but also enjoyed a few pints of beer and Sunday roasts etc..which I intend to do, all in moderation of course.

  • phil
    9 December 2011

    I’m a train driver by trade and the orbits coloumn in our monthly journal gives most causes of death unless privacy is requested.My point is an average of 60% of train drivers get cancer and die from it.We’re sat in front of a huge diesel engine with 3 genorators,6 traction motors and all the electronics to make them work.Then a lot of the time we’re below the high voltage overhead lines.After a shift in the cab with the electronic cabinets my skin feels greasy as if it’s trying too protect me from the electro magnetic fields which I do no get in the smaller cab at the other end.
    The BT Infinity advert shows how much energy is flowing through our homes etc.Add to this modern lifestyles and ok we’re living longer but poisoning ourselves along the way?

  • peter killick
    9 December 2011

    I have always eaten a healthy diet and have always been involved with sport playing football, cricket and squash and long distance running, and until the last two years was walking 8 miles 5 days a week in 2 hours and i got Prostrate cancer so as far as i see it it is not always the life style you live that causes it.

  • Rosamond Farr
    9 December 2011

    I found this article very interesting and helpful. I have an issue regarding fruit in ulster. We pay high prices for fruit and very often the fruit is past its best by the time it reaches the supermarket shelves, this must have an impact also on causes of cancer?

  • Sue
    9 December 2011

    We all know people who have lived a fit and healthy life who have subsequently died from cancer (my 46 year old husband) and the reverse. This evidence is not putting blame on anyone it is just allowing people to consider which risks they are willing / not wiling to take. We make such decisions everyday of our life. I will get in my car to go to work even though it increases my chance of being killed in a car crash but I will wear my seat belt and travel at an appropriate speed to increase the chance of me surviving a car crash etc.

  • Pam
    9 December 2011

    I find that the scientific evidence just leaves me with more questions than answers. It is very easy to say that ‘lifestyle influences cancer’ but as a non smoking vegetarian who has had a very healthy exercise regime for a very long time I am doubtful of the conclusions and would ask who is paying you. I have always supported cancer research but I am loosing faith in the research because it is way too generalised and is generated in a way that I find totally suspect and very judgemental.

  • john pickering
    8 December 2011

    i had a kidney removed nearlly 4 years ago i was told on jan 13 this year that it had spread to my lymph nodes liver sturnam pelvis right kidney spine i now have a sub carinal mass that will not respond to treatment my days on this planet are numbered live at this moment in time for me is crap the chemo tablets they have put me on are destroying my quality of life and i’ve had enough

  • Alan
    8 December 2011

    My wife and Iboth lost our previous partners through cancer in spite of all four of us having had healthy lifestyles with no smoking, plenty of exercise and only social drinking.
    I am covinced that long term a major cause of cancers will be found to be the carcinogens to which we are all subjected in our every day lives irrespective of our wanting to be or not. Having said that I fully agree that a healthy lfestyle and balanced diet with good food reduces the risk of the disease.

  • Pan Pantziarka
    8 December 2011

    The reporting of this study is definitely tinged with a moralistic streak that says 40% of cancer patients have only got themselves to blame. That’s simply not what this study says.

    For a discussion on this take a look at: http://www.anticancer.org.uk/2011/12/cancer-and-lifestyle-choices.html

    People need to remember that this study is a mathematical projection, it’s not based on real patients and what’s happened to them.

  • Lisajane Gooden
    8 December 2011

    Although some people can affect their chances of developing cancer; This latest barrage in the press is somewhat upsetting. Do cancer patients not feel guilty enough? I have a BRAC1 gene and having had breast cancer twice, I spent many years pre genetic counselling wondering what I did or could have done to avoid my cancer. The answer was nothing; I breast fed 3 children, have never smoked, have a healthy BMI, don’t drink and I’m a vegetarian. The answers are just not that straightforward.

  • Kevan Gelling
    8 December 2011

    Here’s my beef:

    So fruit/veg reduce head and neck cancers by 4%, red meat reduces bowel cancer by 8% but vitamin D reduces bowel cancer by a massive 40%.

    The evidence for vitamin D is as good as if not better then many of the lifestyle factors listed above, so why is it missing.

    And vitamin D protects against infections and melonoma and is affected by linked to obesity, alcohol and smoking. After smoking it may the single biggest factor in increased cancer risk.

  • Anne
    8 December 2011

    I agree with many sufferers here. I’ve been donating to Cancer Research UK for many years, but also now feel I’m just being blamed for my condition. I lead a healthy lifestyle, and breast fed both my babies. I have an older sister who never had babies, drinks heavily and has been obese since adolecence. Guess which one of us has breast cancer?
    There’s much made here of weight being “responsible” (how do they know?) for 7% of cancers. Not enough emphasis on the fact that this means it has nothing to do with the other 93%!
    I also wonder why my oncologist wants me to take Tamoxifen, a drug which is notorious for making patients put on lots of weight. If weight is such a risk factor, why give women with breast cancer something which makes them fat??

  • Diane
    7 December 2011

    Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in June and undergone two surgeries and now having chemotherapy I feel I have gone through enough,with more still to come, without now being blamed for having caused my own cancer. I feel ashamed, like I have heaped sorrow onto my family and friends and it is all my fault.

  • Kevan Gelling
    7 December 2011

    Fruit & veg – “limited evidence” and “inadequate evidence” from your BJC research – http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v105/n2s/full/bjc2011477a.html. How is it 3rd in the list ?

    Also in the UK, sausages are not ‘processed’

  • John anthony courbus
    7 December 2011

    i am doing a science case study and have learnt about how the lungs work and how it can cause cancer and this website has most definatley raised my awairness of cancer and the implecations of smoking.

  • Elliot
    7 December 2011

    That is a disgraceful attempt at down playing carcinogens in our day to day life. We’re being openly poisoned and if our immune system is suffering for whatever reason whether it’s lack of Iodine or Vitamins then Cancer has a chance of breaking through.

    It’s not just about eating right. Learn what’s in your shower gel, toothpaste, how wireless internet and cell phones effect the body, the chemicals being sprayed in the air.

    Modern medicine will say none of the above can cause cancer. They refuse to acknowledge if a person is exposed to all of the above on a daily basis it’s going to have an effect.

  • Henry Scowcroft
    7 December 2011

    Thanks everyone for your comments, and our thoughts are with each and every one of you affected by cancer.

    There are still many individual cases of cancer that we can’t explain and for which there doesn’t seem to be any obvious lifestyle factor. So we want you to know that when we talk about changing lifestyle we are aiming to try and prevent cancer cases in the future, by making sure everyone knows what they can do to stack the odds in their favour.

    As we say in the blog post, this work and the publicity around it is categorically not about blame. Instead, it’s about helping individuals and policy makers understand the science behind reducing your risk of developing cancer. We know that healthy living is no guarantee against developing cancer, and there are still unknown reasons for why cancer develops. But we hope that some people will feel that having this knowledge will encourage them to make at least some simple, positive lifestyle changes that can help to reduce their cancer risk .

    The last thing we want to do is make people feel that getting cancer is their fault in some way, and we know that many cancers can’t be explained by lifestyle factors. But because research has shown that changing lifestyle can reduce the chances of people getting cancer we have a duty to let the public know this. Only in this way will fewer people have to go through the same things that many of you have.

    To address specific points, raised above:

    Elliot – you might find these pages on our main website of interest: http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/cancercontroversies/

    Kevan – re. meat, you may find this of interest: http://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2007/11/12/how-does-red-meat-increase-bowel-cancer-risk/ re. fruit and vegetables, the current evidence suggests they’re less important than were thought a decade ago, but they’re still a factor, particularly for mouth and throat cancer, and possibly for lung cancer. And since not many people in the UK achieve 5 a day, even if the risk is smaller, it’ll affect more cases. Have a read: http://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2010/12/01/fruit-and-vegetables-are-good-for-general-health-but-have-little-effect-on-cancer/

    Henry
    Cancer Research UK

  • judith
    7 December 2011

    i agree with anne-marie and ellie. how can the research possibly show what ’causes’ cancer? none of the press reports explain that. i have breast cancer, have always had a healthy lifestyle, but say i was obese how would you know that the cancer was caused by my obesity rather than just coexisting. i have friends who are really overweight and drink and smoke etc who do not have cancer, i’m the yoga/cycling/vegetarian/meditating one who does. i understand using this research to try to change behaviour but without context it just ends up blaming those who are already struggling.

  • Kevan Gelling
    7 December 2011

    I though recent research had concluded that fruit and veg intake do little to prevent cancer and that it’s processed red meat not fresh red meat – so bacon, ham but not fresh sausages – which increases bowel cancer risk

  • Elliot
    7 December 2011

    Elise, do not feel it is your fault. There are so many carcinogenesis we’re exposed to on a daily basis. It’s most likely a collaboration of everything. From the drugs and radiation in our food and water, to the plastic containers which contain BPA and other poisons. All legalised by our so called food regulators.

  • Elise Willetts
    7 December 2011

    I agree with Ann Marie, I am recovering from bowel cancer and I too feel yet again it’s my own fault that I have had it, despite having always tried to comply with what you now suggest, healthy eating, exercise, no smoking or drinking in moderation. It doesn’t help to have these suggestions made.

  • Anne-Marie
    7 December 2011

    I have secondary BC and the way this has been reported in the press makes people like me feel – ‘here we go again, I’ve caused my own cancer’…