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Men: here are six things you can do today to reduce your risk of preventable cancers

Monday 9 July 2018

A man in his 30s stands outside in the afternoon in front of an orchard, arms crossed, smiling for the camera.
Is your lifestyle putting you at risk of developing preventable cancers?

Hey men – did you know that there are quite a few types of cancer that can be preventable? And did you know that compared to women, Queensland men are putting themselves at a higher risk of getting these cancers, just because of a few daily lifestyle choices?

In Queensland, rates of bowel cancer in men are 26% higher than in women. Lung cancer impacts 40% more men than women, and melanoma 50%. Rates of bladder cancer are 3.1 times higher for men. While sometimes they develop for reasons beyond our control, bowel cancer, lung cancer, melanoma and bladder cancer are all preventable.

How preventable you ask? According to Cancer Council Queensland, around one third of all cancer cases could be prevented. This adds up to about 5,000 Queensland men every year diagnosed with cancers they might have prevented themselves from getting.

So, what can you to do help prevent yourself from getting these cancers? We’ve got six steps for you to follow to give yourself the best chance of staying healthy.

1. Reduce your waistline

Slimming down your dad bod is not just about looking better come summer; maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to stay healthy and prevent a whole hoard of diseases, from cancers, to coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Want support in becoming healthier and perhaps losing a few extra kilos? Head to Get Healthy, where you can access free personal health coaching and resources to support you to become a healthier you.

2. Be safe in the sun

Whether you work outdoors, you like to play sport or exercise outside, you love the occasional beach day, or even if the only sun you see each day hits your skin as you walk to and from the office, there are probably ways you could be more sun safe.

Some people think that melanoma isn’t as serious as other cancers because it starts on the outside of the body on the skin – but melanoma is both common and deadly. In fact, melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia, with one in 13 men diagnosed with the disease before they are 85.

In Queensland melanoma rates are 50% higher in men than women. While melanoma can often be completely cured if caught in the early stages, around five Aussies die from melanoma every day.

Reducing your sun exposure doesn’t have to be hard; if you make it part of your daily routine soon you’ll be staying safe in the sun without even thinking about it.

Make it part of your everyday routine to follow the five SunSmart behaviours: Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide. Whenever you’re outside – and this counts for days that are cloudy and cool as well as sunny, hot days – do these five things:

  • slip on a shirt that covers your skin
  • slop on sunscreen that is SPF30 or higher and remember to reapply every 2 hours while you are outside
  • slap on a broadbrimmed hat (and keep it on – no whinging about your hat hair!)
  • seek shade when you can – think ahead about where you’ll be and where you might be able to find some shade: a leafy tree, park rotunda, pop up tent or umbrella are all great options for staying out of the sun
  • slide on some sunglasses, making sure they’ve got an Eye Protection Factor (EPF) of 9 or above

Two men sit on the beach after a surf, swimsuits pulled down, the sun on their backs.

3. Reset your eating habits

If you want to get the best from your body, you need to fuel it well. A healthy diet not only lowers your risk of some cancers, but is essential for many other elements of good health like a strong immune system, good digestion and optimal brain function.

Healthy eating shouldn’t be complicated, but it can begin to look tricky once you wade through the ads for the next top ‘miracle’ foods and information on the thousands of different fad diets.

Hit the reset button on your diet by visiting Healthier. Happier. to learn the basics about the type of food you should eat, how much and how often. Then you can access their list of recipes suitable for every meal and every occasion. Still not sure what ‘healthy eating’ should look like for you? Visit the Eat for Health website to learn all about the Australian Dietary Guidelines and how you can follow them.

4. Get up and move

Your body was made to move, but increasingly modern-day life means spending your time sitting down and staying still. Even if you’re not overweight or you don’t have any desire to get ripped, physical activity promotes good health and reduces your risk of some cancers, so it’s important that you get your body moving regularly.

According to the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults, Australian adults should do some kind of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. This should add up to 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week.

If getting active isn’t already part of your daily routine, get started by trying Healthier. Happier.’s workout routines or pick one of these 30 fun ways to get 30 minutes of physical activity.

A man stands on a sunny veranda with his arm around a women, and older man opposite them clinking his beer bottle against theirs.

5. Think about your drink

How often you drink alcohol and how much you drink each session could impact your risk of cancers like liver cancer, mouth and oesophageal cancer.

Not sure how much is too much? The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol recommends drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce your lifetime risk of harm from alcohol related disease.

If you’re not sure how to go about cutting back on drinking, there are services that can help you figure out if your drinking is risky, and help you develop strategies to cut back. You can find a list of services to help you out here.

6. Please, stop smoking!

You know that smoking’s no good for you, and you might even be scared about the risks you’re running of getting lung, throat or mouth cancer. But smoking is addictive, which means quitting can be tough.

We’ve gathered all of our resources in one place over on Quit HQ, so that you can find the best way for you to move towards quitting, and stay off the smokes once you have quit.

Last updated: 9 July 2018