Unhealthy lifestyles which lead to cancer are “one of the biggest challenges facing the world”, an expert has warned.
Professor Martin Wiseman said that a surge in cancers during the 21st century arising from poor diet and lack of exercise is as big an issue as providing access to clean water in the 19th century.
And millions of people could be at risk of dying early from the disease, according to the World Cancer Research Fund’s (WCRF) medical and scientific adviser.
Eating better, exercising and sticking to a healthy weight could help to slash around 80,000 cases of the disease each year in the UK.
But it is acknowledged that a boost in many cancer cases is a result of people living longer.
Around one in three of the most common cancers in high-income countries and about one in four in medium and low-income countries could be stopped if people led healthier lives, estimates suggest.
According to the United Nations, the number of deaths from cancer worldwide is set to double by 2030.
And global cases of cancer have risen dramatically in the last 30 years, from 6.3 million cases in 1980 to 8.1 million in 1990 and 11.3 million in 2007.
But Professor Wiseman said this doubling was not inevitable and more should be done to prevent lifestyle cancers.
He was speaking ahead of the WCRF’s international scientific conference in London, which will hear from speakers from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
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