Action is needed to help people make positive lifestyle changes and minimise the risk of cancer, Alex Cunningham has said, and particular efforts should be made to protect children and young people.
Stockton North’s Labour MP was speaking following a recent Cancer Research UK event in Westminster, where he met with campaigners and nurses from the charity’s Cancer Awareness Roadshow to find out more about their work on cancer prevention and to learn more about how lifestyle changes can reduce any risk of getting the disease.
Figures from Cancer Research UK suggest that more than four in ten cancer cases in the UK could be prevented each year, with smoking and obesity being the biggest avoidable causes of the disease. But while the dangers of smoking are well known, many are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer.
Being overweight or obese is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking and is linked to 18,100 cancer cases every year, as well as increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Some 68 per cent of people in the North East are currently overweight or obese.
The event coincided with the launch of Cancer Research UK’s new Junk Free TV campaign, which aims to help address childhood obesity. It calls for the removal of junk food adverts on TV before the watershed to help reduce the impact of this negative influence over children’s food choices.
“We’ve come such a long way in the fight against cancer. So it’s shocking to hear that so many cases in Stockton, and across the country more broadly, could be prevented. The numbers make it clear we need to act now to encourage and help people to make positive lifestyle changes, such as becoming more active and maintaining a healthy weight.
“While there are no guarantees against the disease, I want to do everything I can to help my constituents and their families stack the odds in their favour and lead long and healthy lives.”
Alison Cox, Director of Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s great to have Alex’s support with raising awareness of how people can reduce their risk of cancer. There are a lot of things working against us when it comes to making healthier choices. We’re all bombarded by advertising of junk foods packed with extra calories and this leads kids to pester their parents to buy unhealthy food for them.
“That’s why we’re calling on Government to introduce a number of measures to protect the health of the nation’s children. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, so it’s vital that young people are encouraged to eat healthily and keep active and that healthy choices are easy to make.”