In 2016 it was estimated that more than 130,000 Australians were diagnosed with cancer. It’s the leading cause of death, accounting for around 3 in 10 deaths in Australia. The good news is that at least one in three cases of cancer are preventable and many cancer deaths could be prevented with the right lifestyle habits and regular screening. According to Cancer Council Australia more than 130,00 cancer deaths each year are due to smoking, sun exposure, poor diet, alcohol, physical inactivity or being overweight.
- Quit smoking. Tobacco smoke contains more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals. Quitting is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your cancer risk. If you need help, talk to your doctor, call the Quitline on 13 78 48 (13 QUIT) or visit www.quitbecauseyoucan.org.au
- Eat a healthy diet. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, this means eating more plant foods (a variety of different coloured vegetables and fruit, wholegrains and legumes) limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats. Limiting salt, salty processed foods, sugary drinks, fast foods and energy dense foods (those that provide a lot of calories but little nutrition) is also important.
- Move more. Be physically active (for example brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes each day and reduce sedentary time, such as television watching.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight, particularly around the middle, increases the risks of many types of cancer. This means that preventing weight gain and losing weight if you are overweight, is an important step in reducing your cancer risk. You can do this through moving more and eating right.
- Be Sun Smart. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and we have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. But it’s largely preventable. When the UV level is 3 or above (you can find out at www.bom.gov.au/uv) the Cancer Council Australia recommend being Sun Smart – slip on sun protective clothing, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on some sunnies.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. There’s strong evidence that alcohol increases the risk of six types of cancer – breast, bowel, liver, mouth/throat, esophageal and stomach. For this reason it’s best not to drink to avoid cancer, but if you do, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than 2 standard drinks per day and try one or two alcohol-free days each week.
For more information: Phone the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 or visit www.cancer.org.au