Lack of exercise creates cancer risk for 55% of Victorians

Thursday 25 May, 2017

More than half of all Victorians are doing no exercise at all or are inactive enough to be at increased risk of cancer.

Insufficient physical activity is a major risk factor for a range of cancers, but 55% of Victorians report that they don't do enough physical activity[1].

That's more than 2.3 million people falling below recommended guidelines for one hour of moderate exercise or 30 minutes of vigorous activity per day.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said living an active life was a vital tool in the fight against cancer.

"You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to stay fit and improve your health. Just forming a habit of getting off the couch and going for a walk, or taking the stairs instead of the lift can have a significant impact on your risk of receiving a cancer diagnosis"," Mr Harper said.

Every year, more than 31,600 Victorians will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 11,000 will die from the disease.

Physical activity is an important preventative factor in 13 different cancers, including two of the most common cancers - breast cancer and bowel cancer - and can help people living with a diagnosis during their treatment and recovery.

"A growing number of studies have shown that being physically active lowers the risk of recurrence and improves the chances of survival compared to those who don't exercise. Moving your body is so important," Mr Harper said.

The news comes as Cancer Council celebrates Australia's Biggest Morning Tea today, which raises funds for support services, such as the Healthy Living After Cancer program.

Delivered by nurses on Cancer Council Victoria's information and support line 13 11 20, the program offers free health coaching over the phone, with experienced cancer nurses. The program can help participants get active, eat healthy and feel better.

Mr Harper said Australia's Biggest Morning Tea relied on the generosity of Victorians to fund life-saving research, prevention and support services.

"It's so important that we provide support not only for individuals, but also their carers, friends and colleagues. By hosting a morning tea Victorians can play a crucial role in funding programs that will make life easier for people living with cancer."

Today, Thursday 25 May is the official date of Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, but Victorians can host an event any time during May or June by registering at or calling 1300 65 65 85.

Mr Harper encouraged hosts to plan healthy menus, and said eating plenty of vegetables and fruit is likely to reduce the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach and bowel. He also said the events were a great way to give back to the community.

"With 1 in 3 Victorians developing cancer by the age of 75, it's so important that we're there for them, and their families and friends, so I encourage everyone to host an Australia's Biggest Morning Tea to help us provide that support," he said.