Can cancer be prevented?

  • Not all cancers can be prevented but there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

  • These include not smoking and keeping a healthy weight.

  • The world around us can make being healthy hard, and this can affect some people more than others. We need the government to help make it easier for us all. 

How can making healthy changes reduce my cancer risk?

A person’s risk of cancer depends on many different things. Research shows that things like stopping smoking and keeping a healthy weight can reduce the risk of cancer. By making healthy changes now, you can make a difference to your health in the future.

Use this page to explore six things that can reduce cancer risk.

And remember, you can also talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your cancer risk.

Can I make sure I don’t get cancer?

No, but making healthy changes does help reduce the risk. There are some things we can’t change that increase the risk of cancer. These include things like getting older and a family history of cancer. 

The world around us also affects how healthy we are. There are some things we can do to help us form healthy habits. But we also need the government to help make it easier for everyone to be healthy.

Not smoking

Not smoking is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.  Harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke affect the entire body, not just our lungs. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is quit.

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Keep a healthy weight

Being a healthy weight has lots of health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer. But the world around us can make this difficult, which is why the government needs to help too.

 
 
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Have a healthy balanced diet

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

 

Enjoy the sun safely

Being safe in the sun reduces the risk of skin cancer. Too much UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds damages our skin cells. When the sun is strong, take extra care to protect your skin- spend time in the shade, cover up with clothing, and use sunscreen.

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Cut back on alcohol

Cutting back on alcohol reduces your risk of 7 types of cancer. It doesn't matter what type it is - all alcohol can cause damage. Whatever your drinking habits, drinking less alcohol will improve your health.

Find out more about cutting down on alcohol

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The HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine is offered for free to children aged 11-13, and some other groups. It helps protect against HPV infection, reducing the risk of some types of cancer. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective.  

 
 
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How does cancer start?

DNA is a set of instructions inside our cells that tells them how to behave. Cancer is caused by damage to our DNA that has built up over time.

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

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