Cancer Prevention Awareness Week 2021

Our annual campaign focused on how lockdowns in Britain because of COVID resulted in more people living unhealthily.

In March 2021, we revealed the results of a survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK showing that, since the first lockdown in March 2020, adults were twice as likely to have started eating more unhealthy food and snacks than to have started exercising: 2 in 5 (40 per cent) of adults had started eating more unhealthy food and snacks, while only 1 in 5 (22 per cent) had started exercising. In addition, more than a quarter of adults (27 per cent) said they had started drinking more alcohol.

Overall, more than half of respondents (51 per cent) said they had adopted no new healthy habits since the first lockdown such as exercising more, drinking less alcohol and sugary drinks, stopping smoking, eating less processed meat and high-calorie foods, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

> Lockdown lifestyles putting Brits at increased risk of cancer

Activ8: Eat Well, Move More

Prevention pledge

We aimed to support people to explore ways of healthy living that they could take up with our Activ8: Eat Well, Move More plan. The free 8-week e-newsletter delivered recipes, inspiration and step-by-step expert advice on nutrition and physical activity straight to people’s inbox, all based on World Cancer Research Fund’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations. We’re looking forward to making Activ8 a year-long campaign in 2023.

Nearly 2,000 supporters also signed up to our Prevention Pledge, agreeing to adopt our 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations and make them part of their everyday lives.

More bowel and breast cancers could be prevented

Estimates drawn from the UK population highlighted that two of the most common forms of cancer, bowel and breast, are more preventable than thought, according to research funded by World Cancer Research Fund.

In March 2021, we revealed the results of a study by Ed Giovannucci, Prof of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, showing that 67 per cent of UK bowel cancer cases in men and 60 per cent of bowek cancer cases in women could be prevented by modifiable risk factors – this means the cause of the cancer could have been modified or changed, and was not genetically or biologically predetermined to happen. The study also found that modifiable factors are responsible for 27 per cent of breast cancer cases in women.

Prof Giovannucci said:

For both colorectal and breast cancer, as well as many other forms of cancer, it is important to note that the more risk factors that are addressed, the greater the impact will be on an individual’s overall risk. The risk factors also work together; for example, improving diet and increasing physical activity will help with body weight control. All are important.

> Higher number of bowel and breast cancer cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes