We all know the old ‘maxim prevention is better than cure’, and this is certainly true of cancer. More than 300,000 of us develop the disease in the UK each year. Each diagnosis is devastating for the person and their loved ones.
Huge progress is being made in treating cancer, but it would clearly be better if we could prevent people developing the disease in the first place.
There are many things that affect our cancer risk that we can’t control – including our age and genes. But there are several things that we can do to reduce the risk.
Smoking, being overweight or obese, eating an unhealthy diet, and drinking too much alcohol are all preventable causes of cancer, and more than four in ten cases could be prevented by changes to lifestyle.
So it’s easy then is it – all we need to do is lead a healthy lifestyle to cut our cancer risk?
That’s easier said than done. Ever found yourself making a conscious effort to stop eating from the bowl of crisps on the table only to find yourself reaching out for them without realising it? Made plans to go for a jog but never quite got around to it because something urgently needed tidying?
We’ve all been there.
The Centre carries out research on lifestyle behaviour, to find ways to help people achieve their healthy ambitions. The work isn’t about coming up with flash-in-the-pan health fads, but developing evidence-based ways to help people adopt a long-term healthier lifestyle, and improving how information about health is communicated.
The centre focuses on three broad areas: food choice and weight (the ‘Energy Balance Research Group’); cancer communication and screening; and the tobacco control group.
Some of their recent work includes:
- showing that the relatively cheap drug cytisine can help people stop smoking;
- debunking the claim that being vaccinated against HPV (to protect against cervical cancer) promotes risky sexual behaviour;
- showing that men, younger people, non-white ethnic groups and people from poorer backgrounds have a lower awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer;
- demonstrating that genes can influence weight through their impact on appetite.
In this post we’ll look at some of the HBRC’s current projects, including whether weight loss can help cut cancer risk, what advice cancer survivors want about their lifestyle, and how people make decisions about whether to go for cancer screening. Continue reading