Health & Wellbeing

Cancer deaths fall by 10%, but cancers caused by lifestyle are on the rise

Hamburgers on a table

UK deaths from cancer have fallen by 10% in a decade, a report by Cancer Research UK announced today, which is World Cancer Day. 

A report by Cancer Research UK found that 84 people in a population of 100,000 died from the disease in 2013, which is down from 312 in every 100,000 only a decade earlier.

While the news that fewer people are dying from cancer is certainly positive, the report stated that specific cancers, those caused by lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking and alcohol, have shown a significant increase. The report reveals that there was a 60% increase in deaths from liver cancer and an eight percent rise from pancreatic cancer in the same decade. 

Obesity could become the leading cause of cancer

Earlier this year, doctors announced that obesity is set to overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer in the UK.

25% of UK adults are now obese, compared to just three percent in the 1970s. The rise in obesity means that people are at risk of developing diseases earlier in life, so people may get cancer in their 60s instead of 80s. 

A lack of awareness

A poll by the World Cancer Research Fund found that 18 to 24-year-olds were more aware of cancer risks compared to the over-55s. 

While younger people are typically more health conscious, convincing an older generation to change a lifetime of bad habits is proving to be more difficult. But this lack of awareness needs to be addressed, as the majority of cancer deaths occur in people aged 65 and over in the UK.

Education has played a vital role in spotting the warning signs and diagnosing cancer earlier, therefore increasing the chances of effective treatment.  While advancements in science and technology mean that we can diagnose cancer earlier, if people are not taking preventative measures then the mortality rate will continue to rise. 

Exercise creates a ‘hostile environment’ for cancer to survive in

Research suggests that reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and following a regular exercise routine could significantly reduce the risk of getting cancer.  

New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre suggested that exercise acted as a ‘hostile environment’ for cancer to survive in. They found that women with breast cancer could reduce mortality by up to 50% by completing half an hour’s moderate exercise, five times a week, compared with those who were inactive. It also found that vigorous exercise was linked to a reduction of between 40 and 50% in mortality in men with prostate cancer. 

People will only become more active in the long-run if being active is accessible and enjoyable. Banish the high-intensity training plans in favour for moderate exercise that won’t leave people feeling defeated and make it easy to follow. Home workouts are an ideal way to exercise safely, without asking anyone to push themselves too hard.  

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