Cancer Prevention Advise

How To Reduce The Risk of Getting Cancer

This section is dedicated to cancer prevention and how each of us as individuals can reduce our risk of cancer through lifestyle changes and choices.

12 ways to reduce your cancer risk

The European Code Against Cancer, developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Commission 2014, aims to inform people about actions they can take for themselves or their families to reduce their risk of cancer.

Cancer specialists and scientists from across Europe compiled the code based on the latest scientific evidence on cancer prevention.
It consists of twelve recommendations that most people can follow without any special skills or advice. The more recommendations people follow, the lower their risk of cancer will be.

Share our infographic with your friends and family or read the advice below on 12 ways to reduce your cancer risk.

1. Avoid smoking or using tobacco products

Cigarette smoking kills up to half of long-term users. Not only is it the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer but tobacco use is also linked to various other cancers and threats to our health. If you smoke, deciding to quit could save your life.

2. Avoid second-hand smoke

When non-smokers share a space with someone who is smoking they are being exposed to second-hand smoke. This is associated with avoidable illness, including cancer.
Keeping your home and workplace smoke free are important steps in reducing the risk of second-hand smoke.

3. Be a healthy weight

After choosing not to smoke, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important way to reduce your risk of cancer. Find out more about the link between body weight and risk of cancer.
People who follow a healthy lifestyle that adheres to the recommendations for cancer prevention have an estimated 18% lower risk of cancer compared with people whose lifestyle and body weight do not meet the recommendations.

4. Be physically active

Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Being physically active contributes to a healthy lifestyle which can reduce your risk of cancer. Read more about how being physically active can reduce your risk of cancer. 

5. Have a healthy diet

Your diet has a powerful effect on your health, including your chance of getting cancer. Limiting your intake of foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat while increasing your consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and pulses can help to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce your risk of cancer.

6. Avoid alcohol

Drinking alcohol can cause at least seven types of cancer: those of the mouth, gullet (oesophagus), throat (pharynx and larynx), liver, large bowel (colon and rectum), and breast.
Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention. If you do drink alcohol, limit your intake of alcohol. There is no ‘safe’ level of drinking, but the risk of cancer is lower the less alcohol you drink.

7. Avoid too much sun

Skin cancer  is the most common cancer in Ireland but it is also one of the most preventable cancers. Avoid too much sun and make sure you are SunSmart by:

  1. Seeking shade between 11 am and 3 pm.
  2. Covering up by wearing a T-Shirt with a collar and sleeves and a sun hat with that gives shade to the face, neck, head and ears.
  3. Wearing wraparound sunglasses with UV protection.
  4. Wearing sunscreen with SPF 15+ (SPF 30+ for children)

8. Avoid pollutants

Reduce your risk of cancer risk by protecting yourself in workplace against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.

9. Avoid Radon

Radon is a natural radioactive gas that occurs in the Earth’s crust. Exposure to radon increases our risk of lung cancer, the more exposure the greater the risk.
Take action to ensure that you are not exposed to radiation in your home through naturally occurring radon.

10. Advice for women

Women who breastfeed their babies for prolonged periods  have a lower risk of developing breast cancer in later life than comparable women who do not breastfeed.  If you can, breastfeed your baby.
Use of hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of cancers of the breast, endometrium and ovary, as well as several non-cancer adverse health outcomes. If possible you should avoid or limit the use of hormone replacement therapy.

11. Get vaccinations

Few people associate infection with cancer, but nearly one-fifth of all cancers in the world are caused by infectious agents, including viruses and bacteria. Reduce the risk of cancer by ensuring your children take part in vaccination programmes for Hepatitis B  (for newborns) and Human Papillomavirus (targeted for girls in first year of secondary school and upwards). Find out more about the HPV vaccine in Ireland.

12. Get screened for cancer

Some types of cancer can be found and treated before they cause symptoms. The main aim of cancer screening is to prevent death from cancer. Screening can also make it possible to use less severe treatment methods if the cancer is detected early enough. For some cancers, such as cervical cancer and bowel cancer, screening can actually prevent the cancer from developing.
Take part in organised screening programmes for bowel cancer  (men and women), breast cancer  (women) and cervical cancer  (women).

Find out more about screening programmes in Ireland from, download our infographic on 12 ways to reduce your cancer risk and get more info here.

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