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6 New Year's resolutions that could save your life

Friday 23 December, 2011

More than 3500 Victorian lives could be saved by healthier lifestyles

Cancer Council Victoria is encouraging all Victorians to think long-term in making their New Year's resolutions for 2012.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said that making and keeping resolutions such as giving up smoking, exercising more and drinking less alcohol could significantly decrease the risk of serious illness including cancer.

"Resolving to exercise more or cut back on junk food has longer-term benefits. Many people don't realise it, but more than a third of all cancers can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This equates to more than 3500 Victorians this year that would be alive to watch the fireworks with their families this New Year's Eve," Mr Harper said.

In 2010, 28,363 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer and 10,673 lives were claimed by it.

Mr Harper suggested that traditional healthier-lifestyle resolutions could be complemented with a few more unusual items such as keeping up-to-date with cancer screening or choosing not to tan.

"One of the easiest things to cross off a resolution list: check in with your doctor and get up to date with the cancer screening tests that are relevant for your age and sex.

"There are screening tests for breast, bowel and cervical cancer which each year save many lives," he said.

There are many New Year's resolutions people can make for 2012 - here are Cancer Council Victoria's top six:

1. Get checked.

Don't put off having your cancer screening tests. When cancers are caught at an early stage, there is a much better chance of successful treatment.

  • 90% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had regular Pap tests in the 10 years leading up to diagnosis. It's recommended all women who have ever been sexually active, between 18 and 70, have a Pap test every two years.
  • 90% of bowel cancers are curable if detected early. Bowel cancer screening tests can find bowel cancer at an early stage and save your life. It's recommended men and women 50 and older do a test every two years.
  • 95% of skin cancers can be successfully treated if found at an early stage. So if you notice any changes in your skin, don't delay, get them checked out by a health professional or GP.

2. Maintain a healthy weight.

Women should aim for a waistline of less than 85cm while men's mid sections should be no more than 100cm to significantly decrease the risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses.

3. Be physically active.

Research has shown up to one hour of moderate activity or 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily can cut your risk of cancer. There is good evidence that the risk of developing two of the most common Australian cancers, colon and breast, decreases with exercise.

4. Quit smoking.

On average five Victorians died from lung cancer every day in 2010. If you smoke, we suggest you put down the cigarettes and call Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) or visit the Quit website for more advice.

5. Limit alcohol.

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer (larynx and pharynx), oesophageal cancer, bowel cancer (colon and rectum), liver cancer and female breast cancer. If you choose to drink, try and limit your alcohol intake to two standard drinks a day.

6. Be SunSmart.

In Victoria alone 382 people will die from skin cancer (melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer) each year - this is currently more than the state's annual road toll. So, Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide and save your skin. Visit SunSmart.

For more information on cancer prevention see our Cut Your Cancer Risk website.