Experts offer ways to avoid the risk of cancer

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Most people do not need to be reminded that obesity, lack of exercise, sunbeds, cigarettes and alcohol all attribute to an increase in the risk of cancer.

However, according to researchers, if you were to follow the new code from the leading cancer body globally, you could reduce your risk by 50%.

Joachim Schüz, who assisted in producing the code for the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, said it includes in excess of 10 years’ worth of scientific evidence. He said smoking is still the major cause, but other risks have been added, which were not apparent the last time the code was updated during 2003.

The new guidelines include recommendations that girls go for the vaccine for human papillomavirus, which is responsible for cervical cancer. All newborns should be given a hepatitis B vaccine to protect against liver cancer. At present, in the UK, the vaccine is only recommended for infants who are at high risk of the virus due to their mother being a carrier.

Another added recommendation is for mothers to breastfeed, as it reduces the risk of breast cancer development. The co-investigator at IARC, Lawrence von Karsa, said it would reduce the cancer risk of the mother, although the public remain unaware of this. He also stated that hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, so a warning has been issued.

The wording of the code makes it appear to be a reminder rather than a decree. Schüz said it is meant to be a reference for consultation and something people can rely on.

The researchers stated that following the code does not guarantee that cancer will be prevented, but it will reduce risk.

12 Ways to Reduce the risk of cancer

• Maintenance of a healthy weight
• Healthy eating, to include pulses, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, instead of huge amounts of red meat. Avoid foods which are high in fat, sugar and calories
• Avoid too much sun, and do not make use of sunbeds
• Limit the consumption of alcohol, preferably abstain from it
• Remain physically active and do not sit for long periods of time
• Maintain your home as a smoke-free area
• Do not smoke any type of tobacco
• Follow workplace health and safety instructions and protect yourself from cancer-causing substances
• Women should breastfeed and limit the use of hormone replacement therapy
• Ensure that children participate in vaccination programmes for hepatitis B (newborns) and human papillomavirus (HPV)(girls)
• Determine if you are exposed to radiation due to naturally high radon levels within your home. If so, take action to try and reduce the levels
• Participate in cancer screening programmes for cervical cancer, breast cancer and bowel cancer

Image Credit: Ed Uthman

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