More than 100,000 cancers – equivalent to one-third of all those diagnosed in the UK each year – are being caused by smoking, unhealthy diets, alcohol and excess weight, according to research by the charity Cancer Research UK.
The review of cancer and lifestyle in the UK, published in a supplement to the British Journal of Cancer, concluded that smoking is far and away the most important lifestyle factor, causing 23% of cancers in men and 15.6% in women, or nearly one in five cancers.
Overall, the review showed that 45% of all cancers in men could be prevented, compared with 40% of all cancers in women.
Professor Max Parkin, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at Queen Mary University of London, and study author, said: “Many people believe cancer is down to fate or ‘in the genes’. Looking at all the evidence, it’s clear that around 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.”