Whilst ‘encouraging’ that many younger adults are aware of cancer risks associated with being overweight, drinking alcohol, eating a poor diet, not being physically active, it is ‘worrying’ that those more at risk are less aware compared to the younger adults. 

Nearly two thirds of cancer diagnoses occur in the over-65s and one-third in people aged 75 and over. It has been estimated that by 2020 there will be nearly two million people aged 65+ alive following a diagnosis of cancer

  • 42% of over-55s are aware of the cancer risks associated with physical inactivity compared to 49% of 18-24 year olds
  • 53% of over-55s are aware of the cancer risks associated with alcohol compared to 60% of 18-24 year olds
  • 56% of over-55s are aware of the cancer risks associated with eating a poor diet compared to 60% of 18-24 year olds
  • 60% of over-55s are aware of the cancer risks associated with being overweight compared to 63% of 18-24 year olds

World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented through choosing a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight – about 84,000 cases a year in the UK. A lifestyle change is never too late.

This year’s World Cancer Day (4 February) theme is ‘WE CAN I CAN’ and the charity is encouraging people to sign up to their ‘I CAN’ campaign so they can take action to help prevent cancer. The campaign helps people to make healthy and simple lifestyle changes that could reduce their cancer risk. People can sign up to receive email tips on weight, diet, alcohol and physical activity by visiting www.wcrf.org/ICAN.

“It is worrying that the over-55s are the least aware of a number of cancer risks especially as the risk of cancer increases with age. The good news is that people can reduce that risk by having a healthy lifestyle.

“Getting older doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done - it’s never too late to make simple but important changes. Just cutting out sugar from tea, eating a home cooked meal instead of a takeaway or walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift can all help. The more small changes people make, the healthier they will become.   

“This World Cancer Day we hope people will say ‘I CAN cut my cancer risk’ and sign up to our email tips which can help them make lifestyle changes that could improve their health.”

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