Can cancer be prevented?

  • Yes, there are things you can do that make getting cancer less likely.
  • This includes not smoking and keeping a healthy weight.
  • But the world around us can make being healthy hard, which is why the government needs to help as well.

How does cancer start?


Our DNA is a set of instructions which tell our body’s cells what to do. Cancer is caused by damage to our DNA building up over time. 

Some things can increase the chances of this, such as UV rays from the sun and drinking alcohol. 




Not smoking

Not smoking is the biggest thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. Chemicals in cigarette smoke get in to our blood stream and can cause damage around the body. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is quit.

Why Stop Smoking Services should be saved - Brian's story


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Keep a healthy weight

Being a healthy weight has lots of benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer.

Making small changes can help you to be healthier. We have ten top tips to get you started.

Have a healthy balanced diet

Having healthy food and drink can reduce your risk of cancer. Aim to have plenty of fruit and vegetables, foods high in fibre and healthy proteins. Cut down on processed and red meat, and high calorie foods and drinks.


Enjoy the sun safely

Being safe in the sun reduces the risk of skin cancer. When the sun is strong, it is important to protect your skin- spend time in the shade, cover up with clothing, and use sunscreen. Sunburn is a sign your skin has been damaged.

What is sunburn? | Cancer Research UK | (2019)


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Cut back on alcohol

Drinking less alcohol reduces your risk of cancer. It doesn't matter what type of alcohol it is, it can still lead to damage.

Cutting down on alcohol is good for your health and we have tips to help you.

Get moving

Being active is good for you and helps you to be a healthy weight. You don’t have to join a gym - things like quick walking and carrying heavy shopping count.

If you are very active it reduces your risk of cancer.

Can I make sure I don’t get cancer?

No, but living a healthy life does make it less likely.

There are some things that can increase the risk of cancer that we can’t change. This includes things like getting older and damaged DNA inherited from a parent.

Read more about understanding risk on our Science Blog.

How can I make healthy habits?

There are so many benefits to making healthy habits, but sometimes we need a little nudge to get us on our way. Think about small changes in your everyday life that you can stick to over time.

We’ve collected tips and tricks that people told us they use. Check out our favourite hacks for making being healthy just a little bit easier.

Health hacks - Watch this easy tip on how to curb your carbs!


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Get advice for you on what you can do to live healthily.

You can also talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

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