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   Feb 05

Half of Brits don’t realise a good diet could protect them against cancer and blame disease on a ‘throw of the dice’

Three out of five Britons did not know weight was linked to cancer

Two thirds unaware of links between processed meat and the disease

The YouGov poll was carried out for World Cancer Research

Almost half of Britons don’t realise their choice of diet could protect them against cancer, but blame the disease on a ‘throw of the dice’, say experts.

Forty-nine per cent do not know that diet affects people’s risk of getting cancer, the poll found.

Other results show even more – three out of five Britons – did not know that body weight was linked to cancer, with overweight and obese people more at risk.

A study has found 49 per cent of Brits do not know that diet affects people’s risk of getting cancer. Pictured here is a human cancer cell

Around two thirds of people questioned were unaware of links between processed meat and lack of physical activity, and the disease.

A third incorrectly believe the chances of getting cancer are mainly due to family history of the disease even though only five to ten per cent of cancers are linked to inherited genes.

The YouGov survey of 2,000 Britons was carried out for World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), a charity which promotes ways of preventing the disease.

Experts say modern lifestyles are fuelling the rise of the disease, including alcohol, lack of exercise and being overweight.

According to official figures, most people are overweight or obese in England. This includes 61.9 per cent of adults and 28 per cent of children aged between 2 and 15.

Amanda McLean, World Cancer Research Fund’s General Manager, said the findings showed many myths about cancer were still widely believed, instead of people taking personal responsibility for reducing their risk.

Experts say modern lifestyles are fuelling the rise of the disease, including alcohol, lack of exercise and being overweight

She said: ‘On World Cancer Day 2014 it’s very alarming to see that such a large number of people don’t know that there’s a lot they can do to significantly reduce their risk of getting cancer.

‘We would like all sectors of society – including the government, manufacturers, retailers and charities – work together to raise cancer prevention awareness.

‘In the UK, about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented through being a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and being regularly physically active.

‘These results show that many people still seem to mistakenly accept their chances of getting cancer as a throw of the dice. But by making lifestyle changes today, we can help prevent cancer tomorrow.’

Previous research by WCRF suggested almost 80,000 Britons each year could avoid getting one of 12 major cancers if they adopted healthier lifestyles.

It said two out of five cases could be prevented if those with the worst diets, drinking and exercise habits adopted healthier habits for life.

Almost half of breast cancer cases could be avoided if women drank less, ate healthier foods and exercised more, it found.

As a result 20,000 women a year would probably not develop breast cancer by adopting a healthier lifestyle from an early age.

World Cancer Research Fund, alongside the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), said there were four steps to help to reduce the risk of developing cancer:

* Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, pulses and wholegrains.

* Limit alcohol and red meat and try to cut out processed meat.

* Keep your weight at a healthy level (Body Mass Index of between 18.5 and 25) because being overweight is the biggest cancer risk factor after smoking.

* Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. Activity can be divided over the day and should increase breathing and heart rate.

The recommendations were developed by a panel of world-renowned scientists, after considering a detailed report on the links between lifestyle and cancer that examined all relevant scientific evidence.

Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer at UICC, said ‘Governments around the world, including the UK, must recognise the growing cancer burden in their country and act on it now.

‘On World Cancer Day, we demand that health leaders commit to reducing the millions of predicted, needless and premature deaths caused by cancer by focusing efforts and funds on proven preventive and early detection measures.’

Source: Daily Mail

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