Increases in Cancers Tied to Lifestyle Choices in the UK

Liver cancer and melanoma tied to lifestyle choices like smoking drinking and sun exposure increased in United Kingdom

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) In many cases, cancer has a genetic cause, but sometimes lifestyle factors can play a large role. A new study suggests that cancers related to lifestyle could be on the rise in England.

The report, from a United Kingdom (UK) governmental source, looked at changes in cancer between 2003 and 2012.

The report found that liver cancer and a certain type of skin cancer increased significantly during this time.

"Don't smoke and limit alcohol to reduce cancer risks."

This new report, from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS), used UK population data and information on cancer diagnoses reported to ONS to estimate rates of certain cancers.

The most drastic changes uncovered in the report were in cancers that can be related to lifestyle factors like tobacco use, alcohol consumption and sun exposure.

ONS reported that from 2003 to 2012, the rate of liver cancer increased by 70 percent among men and by 60 percent among women.

The report also found that during the same time period, malignant melanoma skin cancer increased by 78 percent among men and by 48 percent among women. 

Based on the new data, ONS reported that malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common type of cancer in England and liver cancer is the eighteenth most common type.

In a news release from Cancer Research UK, a cancer research charity, Nicola Smith, health information officer for Cancer Research UK, highlighted the importance of these findings.

"This sharp increase in liver cancer is extremely worrying, but it's still a relatively uncommon cancer and there are clear lifestyle changes people can make to lower their risk," said Smith. "Cutting down on alcohol and not smoking can lower your risk, as can taking precautions against hepatitis C infection like not sharing needles and practicing safe sex."

Smith also stressed the importance of avoiding sun overexposure to reduce the risk of skin cancer, saying, "It's vital to avoid sunburn, both at home and abroad, by spending time in the shade when the sun is strongest, covering up and using at least SPF15 sunscreen for the parts of your body you can't cover."

The report found that in 2012, the most common types of cancers occurring in men were prostate cancer (25.9 percent of cases), lung cancer (13.6 percent) and colorectal cancer (13.4 percent). For women, the most common types of cancers were breast cancer (30.9 percent), lung cancer (11.9 percent) and colorectal cancer (10.9). These statistics showed no major changes from recent years, said ONS.

The report was released by the UK's Office for National Statistics on June 19. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
June 24, 2014
Last Updated:
June 25, 2014