The European code against cancer

Cancer incidence is rising in the WHO European Region – the total number of new cancer cases diagnosed in 2012 was 3.7 million, and the number is estimated to increase by 25% by 2030, to reach 4.6 million.

WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has issued a new edition of a code of actions that lists 12 ways people can adopt healthier lifestyles. It is estimated that almost half of all deaths due to cancer in Europe could be avoided if everyone followed the recommendations.

  1. Do not smoke or use any form of tobacco.
  2. Make your home smoke free. Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.
  3. Take action to have a healthy body weight.
  4. Be physically active in everyday life. Limit the time you spend sitting.
  5. Have a healthy diet:
    • Eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
    • Limit high-calorie foods (foods high in sugar or fat), and avoid sugary drinks.
    • Avoid processed meat; limit red meat and foods high in salt.
  6. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol can prevent cancer.
  7. Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. Do not use sunbeds.
  8. In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.
  9. Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels.
  10. For women:
    • If you can, breastfeed your baby as this reduces your cancer risk.
    • Limit use of hormone replacement therapy, which increases the risks for certain cancers.
  11. Ensure that your children are vaccinated against:
    • Hepatitis B (for newborns)
    • Human papillomavirus (for girls)
  12. Take part in organized cancer screening programmes for:
    • Bowel cancer (men and women)
    • Breast cancer (women)
    • Cervical cancer (women)

To read more about the code on the euro.who.int website