Dr Rachel Thompson, Deputy Head of Science for World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), said one of the main reasons that men in England are 14 per cent more likely to develop cancer than women is their unhealthy lifestyles.
For almost all cancer risk factors – including diet, obesity and alcohol consumption – men have, on average, less healthy habits than women. The only main exception is physical activity, where rates are higher for men than for women.
But despite this, YouGov surveys have showed that men are less aware than women that these lifestyle factors affect their cancer risk.
This has led WCRF to produce a Men’s Health Guide to try to raise awareness among men about how they can reduce their risk of cancer.
Dr Thompson said: “Men have higher rates of many diseases than women so it might sometimes seem like this is just a fact of life.
“But while it is true that there are some biological reasons for the difference, we need to get across the message that the higher rates of cancer in men are not inevitable.
“By making relatively simple lifestyle changes such as eating more fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and cutting down on alcohol, men can make a real difference to their cancer risk.
“But it is a concern that as well as having, on average, less healthy habits than women, men are also less aware of the potential consequences of these habits. This is because unless they are aware of how cancer can be prevented, they are not in a position to make their own informed choices.”
She added: “Each year nearly 150,000 men are diagnosed with cancer. By making lifestyle changes many thousands of cases of cancer in men could be prevented.”
The Men’s Health Guide includes information about risk factors, the most common types of cancer in men and practical advice on making healthy changes, including activity ideas and recipes.
To launch the Men’s Health Guide, WCRF is giving away copies to the first 200 people who call 020 7343 4205. The guide can also be downloaded at www.wcrf-uk.org/publications
Notes to editors:
- In 2008 there were 156,594 deaths from cancer in the UK (81,587 men and 75,007 women).
- Cancer causes 28 per cent of deaths among men, the second highest after heart and circulatory disease at 37 per cent.
- The age-adjusted figures for the different cancer rates in men and women in England come from the Office for National Statistics.
- Department of Health figures show that 66 per cent of men in England are overweight, compared to 57 per cent of women. They also do not eat enough fruit and veg while eating more fats, sugars and preservatives and drinking sugary drinks than women.
- In 2007 31 per cent of men in England reported drinking more than the recommended limit of 21 units of alcohol per week.
- Further cancer statistics can be viewed at www.wcrf-uk.org/research/cancer_statistics.
World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) raises awareness that cancer is largely preventable and helps people make choices to reduce their chances of developing the disease.
This includes research into how cancer risk is related to diet, physical activity, and weight management, and education programmes that highlight the fact that about a third of cancers could be prevented through changes to lifestyle. For more information on the charity’s work, visit www.wcrf-uk.org
The WCRF report, called Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, was launched in November 2007 and is the most comprehensive report ever published on the link between cancer and lifestyle. For more information, visit www.dietandcancerreport.org