Victorians are putting their long-term health in danger by underestimating the impact they can have on their risk of developing cancer by taking action now and improving their lifestyle.
Research released today by Cancer Council Victoria  shows that Victorians are either in the dark or don't want to acknowledge the lifestyle changes they can make to decrease their risk of cancer.
Only 9% of Victorians named limiting alcohol and only 1% suggested weight control when asked what they could do to reduce their risk of cancer – despite obesity being a leading risk factor for cancer and alcohol causing around 1300 cancer-related deaths a year in Australia.
Director of the Cancer Prevention Centre at Cancer Council Victoria, Craig Sinclair, said that greater community awareness of how individual lifestyle choices could impact cancer risk was essential to combat more than 3000 preventable Victorian cancer deaths each year.
"There is a tendency for people to believe that cancer is out of their control, a product of environmental factors or family history, but in truth, one third of all cancer deaths are due to avoidable risk factors and less than one in 10 are caused by known faulty genes."
"It's concerning that some factors such as stress for which there is no proven causal link to cancer sometimes rank higher on people's perceptions of cancer risk than supported factors such as weight control and alcohol.
"We call on the new state government to prioritise cancer prevention in 2011 and help improve awareness of lifestyle factors and their impact on cancer risk," said Mr Sinclair.
The research also found that when prompted, cigarettes, sun exposure and family history were the top three things that people considered to be very important in reducing cancer risk.
People often view the new year as an opportunity to make new years resolutions committing to positive lifestyle changes. Unfortunately there is still confusion out there about what the real risks and bad habits are. So here's some tips from the Cut your cancer risk team on how to ensure a healthier 2011:
Cancer Council Victoria's Cut Your Cancer Risk website is designed to help educate the community about cancer prevention through healthy lifestyle choices. Visitors to the site can calculate their cancer risk and set goals to cut their own individual cancer risk.
The Cancer Issues Population Survey (CIPS) has been conducted in 2005, 2007 and 2010, by our Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer.
The most recent results were taken from a telephone survey of just under 3000 over 18 year olds in Victoria. The research was conducted during July 2010 by a market research company on behalf of Cancer Council Victoria.
1 - Cancer Issues Population Survey (CIPS) 2005, 2007 & 2010, Cancer Council Victoria, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer. Changes in perception of body weight, physical activity and dietary factors in relation to cancer risk in the population: updated findings
2 - International Union Against Cancer (UICC). (2004). Evidence based cancer prevention: strategies for NGOs. A UICC handbook for Europe. & World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institute for Cancer Research. (2007). Food, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Washington DC: AICR.
4 - Current report - Victorian Population Health Survey 2008