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The roles that a healthy diet and active lifestyle have on reducing the risks of certain types of cancers could prevent nearly 3 million cases of cancer a year, says a new report by the World Cancer Research Fund.

The report comes just days before a United Nations summit aimed at exploring ways of reducing the rising cancer rates around the world—about 12 million newly diagnosed cases each year, many of which can be attributed to junk/fast food diets, cigarettes and alcohol as well as inactivity.

Possible target areas of focus include advertisements (especially those targeted at children), salt content in restaurant and prepared foods, tobacco advertising and alcohol pricing.

According to professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser to the WCRF, “With millions of lives at risk around the world, the stakes are incredibly high. And while this is an issue facing millions globally, every day in the UK people are being diagnosed with a cancer that could have been prevented. People are still unaware that risk factors such as alcohol and obesity affect cancer risk while at the same time, from television advertising to the pricing of food, our society works in a way that discourages people from adopting healthy habits. But this summit offers the chance to look at public health issues at the international level.”

Cancer is a non-communicable disease; and while there are a number of genetic factors that can put humans at risk, scientists agree that excessive alcohol, tobacco and junk food consumption are habits also strongly connected to cancer.

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating lots of plant foods and less meat, reducing salt and getting regular exercise are keys in preventing many types of cancers; quitting smoking reduces the risk of lung, throat and mouth cancer; and breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.

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