Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Cancer Risk – Many Are Not Informed

Jun 3, 2009 by

Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Cancer Risk – Many Are Not Informed

Further, the proportion of the general population which has these unhealthy habits is high and seems to be on the rise. For example, in 2006, 38% and 24% of adults in England were overweight and obese respectively. In that year, only 32% of men and 42% of women had healthy body weight, down from 1993 figures of 41% and 49% respectively. Obesity in boys increased from 11% in 1995 to 17% in 2006, while the rate in girls went from 12% to 15% in that period.

In addition, children in Scotland ate too much sugar, while adults in England drank too much alcohol. Fortunately, there was reported improvement in exercise rates and reduction in average salt intake.

Awareness on the up, but still needs massive improvement

As far as awareness was concerned, at least there are signs of improvement, albeit a relatively small one. In a similar survey carried out in August 2007, 46% were not aware that poor diet can increase cancer risk (vs 41% in 2009), 53% were not aware of the overweight-cancer link (44% in 2009), while 67% were not aware of the lack-of-exercise-cancer link (58% in 2009).

It is, however, clear that more needs to be done in terms of preventive education. “Our own surveys have also found similar results. Despite substantial evidence that our lifestyles have a big influence over our risk of cancer, we still need to do more to raise awareness of this link,” said Henry Scowcroft, the science information manager at Cancer Research UK.

The good news is that people do listen when publicity is given to these issues. A WCRF-commissioned YouGov survey carried out in late 2008, a year after its 2007 report was released, revealed that some people did make dietary and lifestyle changes. This survey had involved 2,124 persons and it found that, after hearing about WCRF’s 2007 report findings, 11% tried to reduce their intake of processed meats, 26% tried to consume more fruits and vegetables, 18% tried harder to watch their weight, 18% attempted more exercise, 9% tried to reduce their alcohol intake, while 10% tried to consume less red meat.

Another interesting statistic was the impact on different age groups. The 2008 YouGov survey reported that 37% of those above 55 tried to reduce their processed meat intake, as compared with a mere 6% of those aged 18 to 34. In the recent 2009 survey, those aged 35 to 44 were found to be the most informed, with those aged 18 to 24 being on the opposite end of the scale. These figures imply that more effort needs to be put into educating and convincing young adults.

And while these surveys relate to Britain, it is quite likely that the overall story and trend in the United States and many other countries would not be very different. Education must continue, and hopefully the right information will get out to the general public.


Many unaware of link between poor diet and cancer (

Cancer study helped diet changes (

Diet, Lifestyle and Weight Statistics (

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1 Comment

  1. thank you, this one help me alot.

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