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Latest news  //  

Manchester is the cancer capital of England. Death rates from the disease are higher than anywhere else in the country.

There are many reasons for this such as poor lifestyles and people going to see their GP too late. But one thing is certain: this is a situation which cannot carry on.

Unless this current generation starts to take stock, this sorry picture could get even worse.

Fortunately, thanks to pioneering work at places like the Christie, treatments are getting better and survival rates are improving all the time. But the best cure of all has to be to not get the disease in the first place and there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.

Healthy Living

Be Aware

Checking for Breast Cancer

Checking for Testicular Cancer

Healthy Living  //

Latest research shows that half of all cancers could be prevented by simple lifestyle changes.

Whether it is adopting a more healthy diet, giving up smoking or taking up more exercise, there are many healthy choices that can be made to reduce your risk of cancer.

Smoking  //

"Smoking is the biggest avoidable risk factor for lung cancer, the most common form of cancer both in Manchester and the UK. It causes nine in ten cases of the disease. Quitting smoking may be very hard, but it will significantly reduce the risk."

Dr Ron Stout, Medical Director at the Christie Hospital and specialist in lung cancer.

Smoking is the biggest single cause of cancer in the world. In fact it kills FIVE TIMES more people in the UK every year than road accidents, overdoses, murder and suicide all put together.

Not only does it cause one in four cancer deaths and is responsible for nine of out ten cases of lung cancer, smoking also increases your risk of getting cancer of the bladder, cervix, kidney, larynx (voice box), mouth, oesophagus, pancreas, stomach and some types of leukaemia.

Over a quarter of adults in the UK smoke cigarettes and despite the many warnings, smoking levels are at their highest amongst those aged 20 to 34. The worrying reality is that almost as many young people are starting to smoke as there are older people giving up.

Why are cigarettes so harmful?

When a cigarette burns it releases thousands of different chemicals, many of them harmful to your health.

The three main components of cigarette smoke are:

  • Nicotine - a fast-acting drug that turns smokers into addicts
  • Carbon monoxide - a poisonous gas that reduces oxygen in the blood stream causing breathing problems
  • Tar - a sticky black residue made up of thousands of chemicals that stays in the smoker's lungs and causes cancer

Nicotine is very addictive. But it is the tar and other chemicals in cigarettes that cause cancer. Other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes include:

  • Acetone - used in nail varnish remover
  • Ammonia - used in dry cleaning fluids
  • Arsenic - used in pest control and insecticides
  • Benzene - used in chemical manufacture
  • Cadmium - used in batteries
  • Formaldehyde - used to preserve dead bodies

Make it Your Time to Quit

The risk of getting most cancers, including lung cancer, increases the longer and more you smoke. Cutting can help, but it is difficult to keep up. The only thing you can be sure will help is stopping altogether.

Not only will it save you a serious amount of cash – an average smoker spends £30,000 on cigarettes during their lifetime - it has untold health benefits and put simply, could save your life.

The sooner you give up smoking the better. After:

  • 20 minutes - your blood pressure and pulse return to normal
  • 8 hours - nicotine, carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in your blood begin to return to normal
  • 2 days - your lungs start to clear and your sense of taste and smell begin to return
  • 3 days - breathing is easier and your energy levels increase
  • 2-12 weeks - circulation improves and exercise gets easier
  • 3-9 months - breathing problems, coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing improve
  • 5 years - risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker
  • 10 years - risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker. You have the same risk of a heart attack as someone who has never smoked

For advice on quitting smoking visit: http://www.givingupsmoking.co.uk/

Healthy Eating  //

"Despite being bombarded by eating advice, the UK diet still leaves a lot to be desired and we continue to be a fast food nation. That's inevitably going to cause problems to people's health and given that a third of all cancers are linked to diet, people really need to think more about what they eat - it could save their lives one day."

Loraine Gillespie, Dietetic Manager and nutritional expert at the Christie Hospital.

We're a nation of poor eaters, with less than a quarter of people aged 19 to 64 eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. And it is set to get worse with children and younger people eating even less healthily than the older generations.

A third of all cancers could be caused by a bad diet, yet experts suggest that eating more fruit and vegetables could reduce the risk by 20%. And those who eat the most may lower their risk by up to a third compared to those who eat the least.

Diet influences risk of cancers of the bowel, stomach, mouth, larynx and oesophagus. It can also contribute to the risk of many other cancers including breast and prostate.

Scientists are working every day to discover more about the links between diet and cancer. It's a very complicated subject. Other factors such as genes and metabolism play a part, and it is still not clear whether particular foods protect us from cancer and others cause it.

One thing is clear though - there are general types of foods that can help to keep us healthy.

Experts suggest the following tips

Fruit and veg:

  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day - frozen, tinned or fresh
  • Fruit and vegetables are a good way to get vitamins, minerals and fibre
  • One portion is around two serving spoons of carrots, a bowl of salad, an orange or a glass of fruit juice
  • Eat vegetables whilst they're still crunchy - don't overcook them

Have foods that have a high-fibre content:

  • As well as fruit and veg, this also includes wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and pulses such as lentils or even baked beans
  • Fibre can help to fill you up. Eating fruit as a snack between meals can help fill you up and may help with hunger if you are trying to loose weight
  • It prevents constipation and may reduce your risk of bowel cancer

Don't eat too many fatty and processed foods:

  • Limit red meat to maximum of 80 grams per day. Choose fish and poultry
  • Cut down on your saturated fats e.g. lard, butter. fatty meats, meat products e.g. pate, sausages, meat pies, take away foods
  • Use small amounts of unsaturated fats instead e.g polyunsaturated fats - sunflower, soya, corn oil, sesame or monounsaturated fats - olive oil or rape seed oils
  • Omega 3 fats which are unsaturated fats can have health benefits, they are found in oily fish, sardines, tuna (fresh), pilchards, mackerel and small amounts in walnuts, rapeseed oil, soya and flax. It is recommended up to 1 portion a week of oily fish for adults (1 portion = 140 grams) and 1 portion of white fish a week (e.g cod, haddock). For pregnant women or children over 12 years no more than 2 portions a week

Avoid being overweight. Avoid burnt / charred foods e.g. burnt toast or burnt meats, consume occasionally meat or fish cooked in direct flames.

For more advice visit: www.5aday.nhs.uk and www.foodstandards.gov.uk/healthiereating/

Body Weight  //

"People need to maintain a healthy body weight if they want to reduce their cancer risk. Obesity is now the second most important avoidable cause of cancer after smoking, and it is certainly worrying that people with a healthy body weight are now in the minority."

Dr Ron Stout, Medical Director at the Christie Hospital.

Half of men and a third of women in the UK are overweight and a further 23% are obese – meaning that people with a healthy body weight are in the minority.

It says it all that being overweight puts you at almost as much risk of developing cancer as if you'd smoked all your life. At least 5% of cancers in women and 3% in men are caused by being overweight. Infact 12,000 people could actually avoid getting cancer every year by maintaining a healthy weight.

Being overweight increases your risk of getting cancer of the womb, kidney, colon and oesophagus. It is also linked to breast cancer in women who have been through the menopause.

Am I overweight?

You can find out whether your weight is within the health range by calculating your body mass index. For a BMI chart click here: http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/interactivetools/default.asp

The best way to lose weight is to eat more healthily and become more active. If you don't know where to start then your GP or NHS Direct (0845 46 47) will be able to offer advice. A combination of healthy eating and regular exercise will help you maintain your target body weight.

Physical Activity  //

"Keeping fit by taking lots of exercise is invaluable in preventing cancer. With breast cancer in particular, being active can reduce risk by up to 40%. We're not suggesting going and joining the nearest gym immediately – even small things like taking the stairs instead of the lift can make a difference."

Professor Tony Howell, breast cancer specialist at the Christie Hospital.

Inactive lifestyles account for 5% of all cancer deaths. And in our increasingly sedentary society with only 37% of men and 25% of women managing to do the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week, it is a statistic that could potentially get a whole lot worse.

Not moving around increases your risk of colon and breast cancer. Inactivity has also been linked to cancers of the lung, womb and prostate.

Fortunately, the negative effects of a lazy lifestyle are reversible – becoming more active can probably halve your risk of colon cancer, as well as having untold other health benefits including reducing diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke and heart disease.

If you want to become active, there's no need to start by joining an expensive gym or entering the London Marathon! Simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Here's a few suggestions:

  • Always take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Walk to work, or if that's not possible, park further away or get off the bus a stop early
  • Walk to the shops
  • Go for a walk with colleagues during your lunch break
  • Try swimming at your local leisure centre
  • And if you want to be really adventurous, why not sign up for one of Christie's events – visit www.Christie's.org for more details
Sun & UV  //

"Sunburn and subsequent skin damage can take place even in the UK. If skin cancer is detected early, it can generally be cured. But you need to know what to look for and where to look. Always be alert to changes in your skin such as an existing mole that has changed shape, colour or has started bleeding, any lumps, sores that will not heal, itching or rough, scaly patches or growths."

Dr Earnest Allan, skin cancer specialist at the Christie Hospital.

Is a tan really worth dying for? There are over 69,000 cases of skin cancer and 2,000 deaths from the disease in the UK alone every year. Although most of us are aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure, we are still not doing enough to protect ourselves.

Most skin cancers are caused by damage from UV rays in sunlight. Sunbeds also emit UV rays that damage your skin.

Scientists estimate that heavy sun exposure causes at least two thirds of all malignant melanomas and up to 90% of all non-melanoma skin cancers – and intense, intermittent sun exposure, such as holiday sunbathing, poses the greatest risk of all.

Look After Your Skin

If you protect yourself from the sun and don't use sunbeds, then you can greatly reduce your risk of skin cancer.

You should also try to:

  • Stay in the shade between 1 and 3pm
  • Make sure you never burn
  • Always cover up with a hat, t-shirt and sunglasses
  • Always use sun cream – factor 15 and above
  • Always report any mole changes or unusual skin growths to your doctor

For further advice on keeping safe in the sun, visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sunsmart/.


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