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Risk Factors of Cancer Mostly Related to Lifestyle Choices and Decisions

Updated on November 15, 2016
janderson99 profile image

Dr John uses his Biochemistry & Physiology research background (PhD) to develop authoritative reviews of dieting, weight loss, obesity, food

A major new study has found that 40% of the cancers diagnosed in the UK each year, over 130,000 in total, are caused by avoidable life style choices including smoking, eating the wrong types and quantities of food, drinking and living a sedentary lifestyles.

Tobacco is by far the worst being the primary cause of 23% of cases of cancer in men and 16% in women.

The next most significant cause was lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in men and being overweight or obese in women.

The report by the Cancer Research UK, published in the British Journal of Cancer, is the most comprehensive analysis of cancer in Britain. The report substantially counters the claim that getting cancer is a chance event or due to your genes. While this may be still true to some extent about 40% of all cancers are caused by lifestyle, diet and behavior aspects of their lives that can be changed.

Lifestyle decisions can increase the risk of cancer, but many risks are not related to lifestyle.
Lifestyle decisions can increase the risk of cancer, but many risks are not related to lifestyle. | Source


  • For men, the advice is: stop smoking, eat more vegetables and fruit, and reduce alcohol consumption.
  • For women, the advice is: stop smoking and lose weight.

The findings were unexpected in two respects

  • The importance of eating fruit and vegetables in protecting men against cancer.
  • The risks associated with being overweight in woman was a more significant risk factor than excess alcohol consumption.

The major findings summarised in the figures below were:

  • In total, 14 lifestyle and environmental factors were identified as risk factors for the 134,000 cancers that occur in the UK each year. The major findings were:
  • 34% of the cancers are linked to smoking, alcohol, diet, lack of exercise and excess weight.
  • 5% of cancers is linked to job related risks, such as being exposed to asbestos or chemicals.
  • For breast cancer, about 10% of the risk relates to being overweight or obese, far exceeding the effect of alcohol and breast feeding risks.
  • For intestinal cancers about 50% of the risk is associated with not eating enough little vegetables and fruit. About 20% of the risk is due to excess alcohol consumption
  • For stomach cancer, a 20% of the risk comes from consuming too much salt in the diet..
  • For mouth and throat cancers the causes are almost entirely due to preventable lifestyle choices.
  • For gall bladder cancer, are largely unrelated to lifestyle.

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The conclusion from the study was that people could reduce the risk of serious health problems by changing their lifestyles.

Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle does not necessarily guarantee a person would remain free of cancer but the study showed that lifestyle changes can reduce the risks substantially.

© janderson99-HubPages

© 2011 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • janderson99 profile image

    Dr. John Anderson 5 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

    Its tough but needed

  • GClark profile image

    GClark 6 years ago from United States

    Fascinating and well-presented hub about cancer focusing on some of the major causes of cancer and the proactive changes that can be made to avoid certain types of cancer. Having dealt with cancer myself, I found this especially interesting. Cutting down on sugar consumption should be a choice made by almost everyone as it is well documented that cancer cells thrive on sugar. Avoiding a lot of processed food would also be something most of us should do. Thanks again for sharing. GClark

  • Healthy Pursuits profile image

    Karla Iverson 6 years ago from Oregon

    "For breast cancer, about 10% of the risk relates to being overweight or obese, far exceeding the effect of alcohol and breast feeding risks"

    Actually breastfeeding has a PROTECTIVE effect against breast cancer, especially if the woman breastfeeds for two or more years of her life. Even lactating without breastfeeding has some weak correlation with reduced breast cancer. It would be sad if, with all of the other pressures against breastfeeding, women got the mistaken impression that breastfeeding was bad for them.

    Otherwise, this is a very good hub. Thanks for doing it. It clearly shows that a pill doesn't solve everything. Sometimes, we just need to maintain our own health.