Women's Lifestyles Increase Cancer Risk

Armen Hareyan's picture

One in five women are doing no exercise at all, according to new statistics from Cancer Research UK's Race for Life, supported by Tesco.

Race for Life and Tesco surveyed the state of female health in the UK to launch the women-only fundraising events for 2005. The worrying results illustrate how women's lifestyle choices are increasing their cancer risk.

This year, Cancer Research UK's Race for Life 5km walks or runs will give 425,000 women the opportunity to start or maintain a healthy lifestyle and step up their levels of activity: a key factor in reducing the risk of cancer.

The research shows that less than a third of women are doing the recommended levels of exercise, despite the fact that almost half of women know that taking regular exercise can reduce their risk of some cancers*. Of those surveyed by Race for Life, almost half perceive themselves to be overweight or obese. Excess body weight can substantially increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with the disease.

In terms of diet, which is linked to around a third of all cancers, only one in three women are eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day. And, despite intense publicity about the dangers, almost a third of women surveyed smoke.

Louise Holland, National Events Director, says, 'Race for Life gives women a fun and simple way to reduce their own risk of cancer while also raising money for Cancer Research UK's life-saving work. In the last 12 years the events have encouraged almost one and a half million women across the UK to get moving, which is testament to the fantastic experience Race for Life offers everyone who takes part.


'While initially the events help women to increase their exercise levels, we hope that feeling the positive effects of a healthier life will encourage them to think about other changes they can make, for example improving their diet or giving up smoking.'

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, says, 'We are very concerned by the results of this survey which show that, in many areas, women are making lifestyle choices that are likely to increase their risk of cancer.

'Many people think that cancer is purely a matter of chance but in reality at least half of all cancers are preventable. We can reduce our own risk of cancer and we can do this throughout our lives.'

Catherine Stewart, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Tesco, says, 'At Tesco we really appreciate the importance of a healthy lifestyle and try to encourage staff and customers alike to take steps towards achieving this. Race for Life is an event that we are very pleased to support and one that our staff thoroughly enjoy, with almost 50,000 of them having taken part over the past three years.'

Race for Life is supporting Cancer Research UK's landmark campaign, Reduce The Risk, which aims to help people learn how lifestyle changes can drastically alter their odds of being diagnosed with cancer. To encourage Race for Life women to reduce their risk, information on the campaign will be included in the goody bags given to each woman taking part.

Singer Shaznay Lewis, who is supporting Race for Life in 2005, says, 'I'm really excited to be getting together with friends to take part in my first Race for Life in 2005. Everyone I've met who has been involved before has talked about the amazing atmosphere on race day and I'm looking forward to experiencing that for myself.

'Race for Life gives women of all ages, however fit they are, the chance to raise money for the great work that Cancer Research UK does.'

This year, Race for Life is expected to raise