Cancer Prevention Week May 2012


The Health Improvement Department are organizing events across Trust sites regarding cancer prevention. 


Cancer Research UK works in partnership with Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. The following article was produced by Cancer Research UK about cancer prevention.

Many people believe that getting cancer is purely down to genes, fate or bad luck. But through scientific research, we know that our risk actually depends on a combination of our genes, our environment and aspects of our lives, many of which we can control.

In the UK, more than one in three people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. Every year, around 309,500 people are diagnosed with the disease.

But experts estimate that more than four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as:

Some people are more at risk of cancer as a result of chemicals or practices used in their occupation. Improved safety in the workplace means fewer people will be at risk now than in the past.

Is prevention a guarantee?

Preventing cancer doesn’t work in the same way as preventing infectious diseases by injecting vaccines.
‘Healthy living’ is not a cast-iron guarantee against cancer. Instead, it "reduces the risk" of the disease - it heavily stacks the odds of avoiding it in our favour.

For example, we know that it’s possible for a heavy smoker to live a cancer-free life, while someone who never touches cigarettes could develop lung cancer. But if we look at the UK as a whole, we can clearly see that non-smokers are far less likely to develop cancer than smokers.

In the same way, careful drivers cannot guarantee that they will never get into an accident due to events beyond their control, but they are much less likely to do so than reckless ones.

Can lifestyle changes really make a difference?

Yes, and not just for cancer. In 2008, a large study worked out how a combination of four healthy behaviours would affect your health. These were: not smoking; keeping active; moderating how much alcohol you drink; and eating five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

People who ticked all four healthy boxes gained an average of 14 years of life compared to people who did not do any of them. By the end of the study, they were less likely to have died from cancer or heart disease.
And another study suggests a third of cancers are linked to smoking, alcohol, diet or being overweight.

For more information visit