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Lead a healthier lifestyle to reduce cancer risk

6 February 2014

Queenslanders need to be more aware that lifestyle behaviours can raise their risk of cancer.

The World Health Organization has detailed the increase in the global cancer burden and identified a need to focus on cancer prevention by tackling obesity, smoking and alcohol.

The 2014 World Cancer Report predicts the number of cancer cases worldwide will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said there was an alarming lack of awareness about the role lifestyle factors play in cancer.

"There is a common misconception held by people that you can't do anything about cancer," Dr Young said.

"Many people don't realise the direct link their diet, physical activity and smoking can have on their health. While changing your lifestyle can't protect you against all cancers, many cancers and chronic diseases can be prevented through actively looking after your health," she said.

"Obesity and tobacco smoking are the leading preventable causes of premature death and disability in Queensland."

With only 12 per cent of Queenslanders being a healthy weight and having healthy lifestyle habits, Dr Young said people needed to understand the consequences of leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

"The health problems caused by leading an unhealthy lifestyle can include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, sleep apnoea and musculoskeletal problems," she said.

"No matter your size, everyone can take steps to be healthier. It doesn't have to be difficult or expensive.

"You can reduce your risk of preventable cancers by eating a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, pulses and whole grains and by aiming to be physically active every day."

Dr Young said tobacco smoking harms nearly every organ in your body. "We know tobacco smoking can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, nose, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney and liver," she said.

Dr Young said she is disappointed the message about sun safety doesn't seem to be getting across either.

"Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world yet Queenslanders continue to expose themselves to the sun, putting themselves at risk of developing skin cancer."

"The most frustrating part is that human behaviour is behind many cancers. People's lives are devastated by cancer that could be prevented through healthy living.

"We want to see people reduce their risk of chronic disease and cancer, live healthier and boost their quality of life."

Dr Young said the Healthier. Happier. campaign is aiming to help people perform an honest assessment of their diet and lifestyle, and find ways to improve their health.

Visit the website to find out more information as well as nutrition and exercise tips, videos and a range of recipes.

Last updated: 11 June 2014