Lifestyle & Belief

UK report finds 40 percent of cancers are caused by lifestyle


Smoking and other lifestyle choices may cause 40 percent of cancers, a new study finds.


Justin Sullivan

Over 40 percent of cancers are affected by our lifestyle choices, a new study by the Cancer Research UK has found. Almost half the cases of cancer diagnosed in the United Kingdom, which total around 130,000 cases a year, can be attributed to choices such as smoking, consuming alcohol, and poor diet, BBC News reported

Tobacco is the biggest culprit, causing 23 percent of cases in men and 15.6 percent in women. The second biggest threat to women is being overweight, which was found to cause 6.9 percent of cancer cases. For men, not eating enough fruits and vegetables causes 6.1 percent of cancer cases, according to the report. 

Other factors that increase the risk of cancers include exposure to sun and sunbeds (the 4th leading cause for women and 6th for men) alcohol consumption (the 6th leading cause for men and 4th for women), occupational hazards like being exposed to chemicals, and infection.  

Nearly a 10th of the risk of breast cancer comes from being overweight or obese, BBC News reported. Some cancers, like mouth and throat cancers, are almost entirely affected by lifestyle choices, the study found. 

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The new report, published by the British Journal of Cancer, found that 14 lifestyle and environmental factors, such as where you live and the job you do, combine to cause 134,000 cancers in the UK each year. 

"Many people believe cancer is down to fate or 'in the genes' and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it," Lead author Prof Max Parkin told BBC News. "Looking at all the evidence, it's clear that around 40 percent of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change." 

Cancer Research UK is an organization which aims to find a cure for cancer through research and spreading awareness. Their annual report is published once a year.