Lifestyle cancer risks
What can I do to prevent cancer?
Live a healthy and active lifestyle!
Most of us know what that means but the difficult bit can sometimes be just doing it. Here's some simple advice.
These actions will not only help reduce your risk of cancer, but also reduce your risk from a range of other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Tobacco smoke is a major preventable cause of cancer and every cigarette you smoke is doing you damage.
In Australia, tobacco smoking causes about 90 per cent of lung cancer in men and 65 per cent in women.
The good news is that every cigarette you don’t smoke is doing you good.
Learn more about stopping smoking
Drink alcohol strictly in moderation
Drinking alcohol daily increases the risk of:
- breast cancers.
It is estimated that 5 per cent of all cancer cases in NSW each year are attributable to long-term, chronic use of alcohol. The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that adults limit themselves to two drinks a day, to limit the risk of harm.
However, from a cancer perspective there is no safe level of alcohol intake.
Learn more about the risks associated with alcohol.
Maintain a healthy body weight
There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese can increase your risk of many common cancers, including:
- prostate (advanced)
A recent Australian study estimates that 25% of cancers (43,000 in 2025) could be prevented through improvements in diet and exercise alone.
A BMI of over 25 is considered overweight and a BMI of over 30 is considered obese. A healthy BMI for men and women is between 18.5-24.9.
Learn more about maintaining a healthy body weight.
Be active and sit less
The benefits of being more active go beyond reducing your risk of cancer. Leading a physically active lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, improve your mental wellbeing and reduce risk of falls in older people. In cancer prevention, physical activity can reduce risk of the following cancers:
There’s more good news. Not only can being more active reduce your risk of these cancers but it can also help in maintaining a healthy body weight.
Find new ideas on how to be more active everyday.
Eat a healthy diet
You can reduce your cancer risk and assist in maintaining a healthy body weight by:
- limiting your consumption of red and processed meats
- eating generous amounts of grains, vegetables and fruits
- avoiding high calorie foods and drinks
- eating less salt.
In 2015, WHO confirmed a link between diets high in red and preserved meats and bowel cancer.
Learn more about eating a healthy diet.
Protect your skin from the sun
When the UV index is three or more, it's time to protect your skin from the sun. 95 per cent of melanomas and 99 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by UV exposure.
Reduce overexposure to the sun by protecting your skin in five ways:
- wear protective clothes
- wear a hat
- wear sunglasses
- seek shade
- apply sunscreen.
Find the UV index in your area of NSW.
Learn more about skin cancer prevention