Reducing the risk of developing cancer

Up to 40% of cancers in the UK could be prevented by making lifestyle changes.

Making even simple changes will make it less likely that you will be diagnosed with cancer and also improve your overall health. The main things you can do to reduce your risk include:

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Stopping smoking

Giving up smoking is the healthiest decision that you can make. More than one in four cancer deaths are caused by smoking.

For support and advice on giving up smoking, the National Stop Smoking Service can give you support and advice on giving up. You can also speak to your local pharmacist for advice or visit the Bradford Stop Smoking service website

Maintaining a healthy weight

It is important to maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk of developing cancer. NHS Choices has lots of advice on how to get started on a weight loss programme. You can also speak to your local pharmacist for advice or use the Bradford weight management service.

Eating a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is crucial to reducing your risk of cancer. It is important to eat a balance of different foods that are low in saturated fats and sugar. It is also important to include a wide range of nutrients in your diet which you can get from including at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables. More information and tips on eating a healthy diet can be found on the NHS Choices website. You can also speak to your local pharmacist for advice.

Reducing your alcohol intake

Excessive alcohol intake is linked to nearly 5% of all cancers in the UK including, mouth and throat, bowel and breast cancer. You should avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible to help prevent cancer. The NHS recommends that you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.



Research has shown that alcohol is particularly harmful when combined with smoking. It’s also surprising to see how much drinking alcohol can add to your daily calorie intake.

More information about the risks of alcohol and how to reduce your intake can be found on the NHS Choices website

If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol either you or someone you know is drinking, there are also a number of local organisations who are there to support you:

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Keeping physically active

Keeping active can help reduce your risk of cancer – especially breast, bowel and womb cancer. There are around 3,400 cases of cancer each year that are linked to a lack of physical activity.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time and money at your local gym, a brisk walk or bike ride is enough. The NHS recommends that you do at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week. But you can easily break this up into small chunks to make it easier to make sure that you are getting enough physically activity.

NHS Choices has lots of information and advice on how you can keep physically active.

Reducing your time in the sun

Although we do need sunlight on our skin for our bodies to produce vitamin D, it is important to keep safe in the sun to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB rays can damage your skin.

The best way to enjoy the sun safely is to use a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen:

  • spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm,
  • cover up with light clothing, a hat and sunglasses,
  • use sunscreen with a protection level of at least SPF15 and 4 stars. Use it generously and reapply regularly.

Cancer Research UK has lots of advice on how to tan safely and protect yourself in the sun.

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