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 //|
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 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 is very addictive. But it is the tar and other chemicals in cigarettes that cause cancer. Other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes include:
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:
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:
Have foods that have a high-fibre content:
Don't eat too many fatty and processed foods:
Avoid being overweight. Avoid burnt / charred foods e.g. burnt toast or burnt meats, consume occasionally meat or fish cooked in direct flames.
|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:
|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:
For further advice on keeping safe in the sun, visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sunsmart/.