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Increase in 'poor lifestyle' cancers

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Concerns have been raised over a “large increase” in the number of cancer cases which can be attributed to poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and diet.

New figures show that over the last decade, the number of cases linked to unhealthy lifestyles have soared for some cancers.

There has been a notable increase in cases of oral, uterine and kidney cancers - all of which have been strongly linked to lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, poor diets - since 2002, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The number of cases of malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, increased by 66% between 2002 and 2011, the figures show.

An ONS spokesman said that the number of cases of skin cancer could have increased because of “choice in clothing and recreational sunbathing”.

In 2002 there were around 6,700 cases of malignant melanoma diagnosed in England, but by 2011 this figure had soared to more than 11,100.

And there were 5,000 cases of kidney cancer in 2002 and just under a decade later there were more than 7,000 cases.

The ONS said that it is estimated that about 27% of cases of female breast cancer are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors - such as alcohol consumption, obesity, lack of physical activity, and hormonal and reproductive factors.

In 2011, around 41,520 English women were diagnosed with the disease and it is the most common cancer in women.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, statistical information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Every year, around 275,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in England. The biggest risk factor for the disease is simply getting older - this is because there’s more time for the cells in our body to accumulate genetic damage that may result in cancer.

“Forty per cent of cancers can be attributed to lifestyle factors, so swapping some bad habits for healthier ones can help reduce the risk of developing the disease.

“Smoking increases the risk of at least 14 forms of cancer including lung, bowel, pancreatic and mouth. Cutting down on alcohol, keeping to a healthy weight, avoiding sunburn and being more active can also help reduce the risk of many cancers.

“Leading a healthy life doesn’t guarantee you won’t get cancer but it can stack the odds in your favour.”

Public health minister Anna Soubry said: “Around a third of cancers are preventable, and it is important that we continue to tackle the factors that increase Are you able to Speak out Safely?the risk of cancer, such as smoking.

“That’s why, through our Cancer Outcomes Strategy, we are taking action to get earlier diagnosis of cancers, when they are more treatable, and to ensure that everyone has access to the best possible treatment and support.”


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Readers' comments (1)

  • This is why initiatives such as Making Every Contact Count are so important. Simple, brief interventions signposting to appropriate services can have such a massive impact upon the health of our nation. If all staffs were to ask, not just nurses in admission and assessment areas but HCAs, doctors and therapists, we could potentially save so many lives needlessly lost through avoidable causes.

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