AS PEOPLE begin their New Year’s resolutions, the Irish Cancer Society has urged the public to make simple lifestyle changes in 2017 to significantly lower their risk of cancer.
The Society has reminded people that more than 40% of cancers can be prevented by making a number of lifestyle changes, with that percentage of cancer risk attributed to five lifestyle factors—tobacco, diet, overweight/obesity, alcohol and low physical activity.
Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager at the society, said: “The number-one thing people can do to improve their health and lower their risk of cancer is to quit smoking.
“Three in every ten cancers are caused by smoking, and we would urge all smokers to make quitting their number-one resolution in 2017.
“Quitting is really difficult, but with the right preparation, support and attitude it can be achieved.
“We would encourage anyone who wants to give up to call the National Smoking Quitline at Callsave 1850 201 203 for lots of advice on quitting and information on nicotine replacement therapies.
“We also run the We Can Quit programme in Cork and Dublin, which encourages women to join forces and support each other to quit,” he said.
Kevin added: “Another way people can reduce their risk is by getting physically active in 2017. We would advise people to limit their time sitting and aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
“You could challenge yourself to get active in 2017 in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. Take on a trek, marathon, run or even an extreme challenge, and get fit while supporting people affected by cancer.
“Being active and having a healthy diet also contributes to maintaining a healthy weight, which after not smoking, is the most important thing you can do for cancer prevention.
“Up to 40% of certain cancers are attributable to being overweight or obese, and with most adults in Ireland now weighing more than they should, it is really important we do all we can to maintain a healthy weight to lower the risk of cancer,” he said.
On the links between alcohol and cancer, Kevin said alcohol is directly linked to seven types of cancer.
He added: “About 900 cancers and 500 cancer deaths are attributed to alcohol every year, so I would urge people to be aware of how they drink and limit their intake as much as possible.
“The New Year is a great opportunity to change a habit and to radically change our approach to alcohol in this country.
“Finally, screening has to be emphasised as a lifestyle resolution in 2017. Cancer screening is a way to find cancer before any symptoms appear in your body and, in Ireland, there are three free screening programmes for breast cancer, bowel cancer and cervical cancer.
“Anyone who is called for screening should take those few minutes out of their busy lives to do it – it could just save their life.”
To sign up for one of the Irish Cancer Society’s active challenges in 2017, or to get support in quitting smoking, see www.cancer.ie/getactive, or www.cancer.ie/smoking.