Almost 80,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year through healthy diet and exercise, new figures out today suggest.
Research from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found some 78,700 cases of cancer in the UK might not occur if people ate healthily, maintained a normal weight and took exercise.
The figures are for 12 common cancers and include an estimated 19,100 cases of breast cancer and 16,100 cases of bowel cancer.
Only six out of 10 (60%) people in the UK are aware of the link between diet and cancer while only 59% know of the link with excess body fat and 45% of the benefit of exercise.
Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser for the WCRF, said: “These estimates set out in stark terms just how high the stakes are and show what could be achieved through making relatively simple lifestyle changes.
“Many people still think of cancer as a question of fate but this emphasises that people can significantly reduce their risk by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.
“When you consider that these estimates do not include the cancers that would be prevented through not smoking, it is clear that cancer is actually a largely preventable disease.“
The charity recommends people exercise for 30 minutes a day, be as lean as possible without becoming underweight, avoid sugary drinks and processed foods and limit consumption of red meats while avoiding processed meats.
It says people should not rely on supplements to avoid cancer but should eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.