Our policy on preventing more cancers
Our cancer risk is greatly affected by the way we live our lives. Research suggests that many thousands of cases of cancer could be prevented by changes to our lifestyle.
The choices we make about whether or not we smoke, how healthy our diet is, how regularly we exercise, and a range of other factors, all have an impact on our cancer risk. Some people feel that it's not the Government's job to tell people what they can and can't do when it comes to lifestyle issues.
However, when looking at public policy in these areas, there is a balance to be struck between personal freedom and state intervention. There are times when the Government can step in to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
For example, the smokefree legislation which was implemented across the UK starting with Scotland in 2006, has protected workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke, and in England, has helped around an additional 300,000 smokers to quit. The legislation has achieved high rates of compliance and has been popular with the general public.
Improving the nutritional information on food packaging would help people to understand whether the foods they are buying are high in sugar, salt and fat.
Changing health behaviours is often difficult and may take many years. The UK needs to increase efforts in cancer prevention and health promotion strategies, supported by funding for research. Research is essential to clarify health messages, to target specific groups effectively, and to design appropriate interventions to encourage the adoption of healthier lifestyles.
In this section you can find out more about our policy on:
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team