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Dads urged to eat healthier foods and get moving this Father's Day

Monday 20 August, 2012
  • Cancer Council finds men more likely to drink every day, are not eating enough fruit and vegetables and need to exercise more
  • More men aged 50 and older need to screen for bowel cancer

Victorian dads are being urged to cut down on the booze and pick up their exercise regimes as Father's Day approaches to enjoy a healthy and longer life with their kids.

The call comes following the release of statistics from Cancer Council Victoria's Cut Your Cancer Risk quiz. The quiz asks a number of questions of both men and women about their lifestyle habits calculating their risk of cancer from their answers.

The Cut Your Cancer Risk quiz, which has been online since 2010, has had more than 7,300 people answer questions related to their lifestyle. Between July 2010 and June 2012, 7371 people answered the quiz – 36% of respondents were men and all were aged over 18 years.

The results of the quiz showed that 10% of men who responded to the quiz drank alcohol every day, while 27% of men admitted to a tipple 2 to 4 times a week.

In the exercise stakes 16% of men did no exercise at all (though 18% of women also responded that they did not exercise).

Men fared badly in the fruit and vegetable category with 16% of respondents saying they ate no fruit at all, and 5% saying they didn't eat vegetables.

Also of concern was the fact that, of the respondents aged 50 and older, almost half of the men (46.5%) had not done a bowel cancer screening test. It is recommended men and women screen for bowel cancer every two years with a test called a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) to find bowel cancer in the early stages when it most likely to be cured.

Cancer Council Victoria's Cancer Prevention Centre Director Craig Sinclair said 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in Victoria were related to an unhealthy lifestyle and were preventable.

"The results of the quiz bring into focus the need for Victorian men, including those who are dads like me, to make healthy lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of cancer," he said. "Eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the intake of alcohol (and having at least one alcohol free day per week), regular exercise, a healthy diet, quitting smoking and getting regular check-ups are just some of the ways men can cut their risk of a cancer diagnosis," Mr Sinclair said.

"As a busy dad it can be tough to get motivated, but making a decision to improve your diet and exercise more are small ways to decrease your risk of cancer, but also other chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes.

Mr Sinclair said Victorian men should also consider:

  • In 2010, 28,363 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer and 10,673 lives were claimed by it. 15,913 men were diagnosed with cancer and 5,999 men died.
  • Top of the list for cancer deaths in Victoria for men is lung cancer with 1,131 men dying from the disease in 2010.
  • Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Victoria (and Australia) – it claimed the lives of 840 men in Victoria in 2010.

"We encourage men to visit their GP or health professional and ask about the screening tests that are appropriate for them.

"Screening for bowel cancer and getting your skin checked for any spots that you may have noticed after summer, are an important way men can cut their cancer risk," he said. "It will mean those dads out there can enjoy many more Father's Days to come."

For more information on cutting your cancer risk, or to answer the quiz yourself and calculate your cancer risk, visit the cut your cancer risk site.

Rundown of quiz results for men:

  • 9% said they smoked
  • 10% said they drank alcohol every day (27% drank 2 to 4 times per week)
  • 16% of men said they never ate fruit and 5% never ate vegetables
  • Similarly, 16% of men who answered the quiz said they never exercise
  • Almost half of respondents (46.5%) said they had not screened for bowel cancer in the past two years.