Cancer not just down to genes, say experts

April 20th, 2009 - 2:33 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Apr 20 (ANI): Cancer is not just down to genes, unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle also contribute to the potentially fatal disease, say experts.

Dr Rachel Thompson, science programme manager for the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) dispelled the myth insisting lack of exercise and being overweight - causes three times as many cases of cancer as genetics.

According to her, 39 per cent of the most common cancers, including breast and bowel, could be prevented through a good diet, exercising and keeping weight under control.

“It’s important to dispel the myth that cancer is just down to genes,” the Telegraph quoted Thompson as saying.

“The evidence shows that an unhealthy diet and low activity levels cause three times more cancer cases than genes.

“It could possibly be even more than this, if only five per cent of cancers are as a result of our genes, then an unhealthy diet and lifestyle could cause eight times more cancer cases.

“If people do have a family history, then this is important information for them personally, but overall this inherited genetic predisposition is uncommon.

“Specific genes for breast and bowel cancer have been identified, but these are rare and account for a very small percentage of cancer cases, whereas more than a third of the most common cancers could be prevented by following a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight,” she added.

The scientists suggest that although people inherit these genes have a higher risk of developing cancer, it is not certain whether they would go on to develop the disease.

They can cut their risk by eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, reducing their salt and alcohol intake and avoiding processed meats.

“When you add not smoking into the healthy lifestyle mix, this 39 per cent becomes even higher,” said Thompson.

“In fact those who have inherited genes should pay closer attention to their lifestyle as there is probably still a lot they can do to reduce their risk.

“Many think that inherited genes or simply bad luck are the only factors in cancer development and it’s about time that myth was laid to rest.

“It is clear that choosing a healthy diet and being more physically active are important ways to help prevent many cancers,” she added. (ANI)

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