Unhealthy lifestyles put millions at risk for cancer

Posted at 02/04/11 6:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The rising trend of unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles has put millions of people worldwide at high risk for cancer, revealed a study released by the World Cancer Research Fund global network on World Cancer Day (Feb. 4).

But a third of the risk of common cancers, the study revealed, can be reduced by making changes to one's lifestyle such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and performing regular physical activity.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) recently released report entitled "Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health" supports these findings as it revealed that regular physical activity may prevent many diseases, among them breast and colon cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

"Physical activity is recommended for people of all ages as a means to reduce risks for certain types of cancers and other non-communicable diseases," said Dr. Tim Armstrong from WHO's Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion.

And all it takes is just 30 minutes of physical activity 5 times a week.

"In order to improve their health and prevent several diseases, adults should do at least 150 minutes moderate physical activity throughout the week. This can be achieved by simply walking 30 minutes five times per week or by cycling to work daily," added Dr. Armstrong.

Reducing the risk of cancer, according to consistent evidence, may also be achieved by stopping smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and protecting against cancer-causing infections, said WCRF in a statement.

On World Cancer Day, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) issued an appeal for people to sign the World Cancer Declaration to help fight the global cancer epidemic.

The UICC is spearheading efforts to motivate global leaders to set directives for cancer prevention at the United Nations Summit for Non-Communicable Diseases scheduled for September 2011.

"Support World Cancer Day by signing the World Cancer Declaration and help us achieve the goal of one million supporters for a Cancer Free World. With individuals, governments and policy makers of the world working together, we have the ability to ease the global burden of cancer now and for future generations," said Dr. Eduardo Cazap, president of UICC.

Some 12.7 million people worldwide get diagnosed with cancer yearly, and 7.6 million people die from it, said UICC.