Getting rid of smoking tobacco, exercising and shedding weight may be key lifestyle behaviours that can cut down thousands of cancer cases a week, say researchers, including one of Indian-origin.
The other major preventable lifestyle behaviours include drinking alcohol, reducing exposure to ultra-violet (UV) radiation, air pollution and eating good amount of fibre.
Following these can prevent nearly four in 10 cancer cases in the UK, says the Cancer Research UK, a non-profit, in a paper published in the British Journal of Cancer.
The study showed that more than one in 20 cancer cases could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight.
“Leading a healthy life doesn’t guarantee that a person won’t get cancer, but it can stack the odds in your favour. These figures show that we each can take positive steps to help reduce our individual risk of the disease,” said Harpal Kumar, chief executive at the Cancer Research UK.
According to the World Health Organisation, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and is responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly one in six deaths is due to cancer.
The latest figures, calculated from 2015 cancer data, showed that tobacco smoke caused around 32,200 cases of cancer in men (17.7 per cent of all male cancer cases) and around 22,000 (12.4 per cent) in women in the UK.
Around 22,800 (6.3 per cent) cases of cancers including bowel, breast, womb and kidney, a year are down to being overweight or obese.
“The research clearly demonstrates the impact of smoking and obesity on cancer risk. Prevention is the most cost-effective way of beating cancer,” Kumar said.
“Obesity is a huge health threat right now, and it will only get worse if nothing is done. Banning junk food TV adverts before the 9 p.m. watershed is an important part of the comprehensive approach needed,” said Linda Bauld from the non-profit.
In addition, overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds causes around 13,600 cases of melanoma skin cancer a year, while drinking alcohol, eating too little fibre caused around 11,900 and 11,700 cases respectively.
Outdoor air pollution was responsible for around 3,600 lung cancer cases a year.