The best lifestyle tweaks to cut risk of breast, bowel and lung cancers

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From smoking to an unhealthy diet, poor lifestyle decisions can lay the groundwork for around 40 percent of all cancers.

Fortunately, turning these habits on their head could see your risk of the deadly condition fall, according to a new study, published in the journal Cancer.

Cutting down on booze, red meat and processed food could make you less prone to bowel, breast and lung cancers.

The research has found that following 10 World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) lifestyle-based recommendations has a tangible impact on your risk.

The more you adhere to the recommendations, which include maintaining a healthy weight and eating a diet rich in wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and pulses, the more you can cut your risk.

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The research team analysed a range of cancer prevention studies and ranked how much participants adhered to the lifestyle advice.

For every extra point, the participants managed to decrease their risk of bowel cancer by 12 percent, breast cancer by 11 percent and lung cancer by 8 percent. 

Co-author of the study, Dr Fiona Malcomson, said: “This is the first study to review the evidence to date on the impact of following the latest version of the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research Cancer Prevention Recommendations and the risk of developing cancer.

“Our findings are exciting as they provide further evidence of some of the best ways to reduce the risk of cancer, in particular breast, bowel, and lung cancers. 

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“By following these recommendations, people may reduce their risk of certain cancers, and we would recommend that people adhere to them as closely as possible.”

The evidence for the impact of lifestyle factors on the risk of the deadly condition was stronger for certain cancers. 

For example, eating a lot of red and processed meat increased the risk of bowel cancer, while drinking alcohol raised the risk of cancers such as breast, bowel, and oesophageal.

However, there are also non-modifiable factors, such as family history of cancer and environmental exposures, that can’t be affected.

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Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This study deepens our understanding of the impact our Recommendations have on reducing cancer risk.

“The more evidence we have demonstrating how following our Recommendations as a pattern of behaviours can reduce cancer risk, such as having a healthy diet, keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight, the more we can support positive change.”

The full list of recommendations for reducing your cancer risk includes: 

  • Being a healthy weight
  • Being physically active
  • Eating a diet rich in wholegrains, vegetables, fruits and beans
  • Limiting fast foods and processed food high in fat, starch or sugar
  • Limiting the intake of sugary drinks and alcohol
  • Avoiding supplements for cancer prevention
  • Breastfeeding babies where possible 
  • Following the recommendations after a cancer diagnosis.

Despite the promising findings for the three common cancer, further research is currently needed to confirm these findings in relation to different types of the deadly disease.

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