The European Code Against Cancer

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12 ways to reduce your cancer risk

The European Code Against Cancer (ECAC) is an initiative of the European Commission, developed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The ECAC aims to inform people about actions they can take for themselves or their families to reduce their risk of cancer. Leading cancer scientists from across Europe compiled the ECAC based on the latest scientific evidence on cancer prevention, coming up with twelve recommendations that most people can follow without any special skills or advice. It has been estimated that almost half of all deaths due to cancer in Europe could be avoided if everyone followed the recommendations.

Do not smoke.
Do not use any form of tobacco.

Make your home smoke free.
Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.

Take action to be a
healthy body weight.

Be physically active in
everyday life. Limit the time
you spend sitting.

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.

If you drink alcohol of any type,
limit your intake.
Not drinking alcohol is better
for cancer prevention.

Avoid too much sun,
especially for children.
Use sun protection.
Do not use sunbeds.

In the workplace,
protect yourself against
cancer-causing substances
by following health and
safety instructions.

Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home.
Take action to reduce high radon levels.

For women:
Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s cancer risk.
If you can, breastfeed your baby.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of certain cancers.
Limit use of HRT.

Ensure your children take part in
vaccination programmes for:
Hepatitis B (for newborns)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) (for girls).

Take part in organised cancer
screening programmes for:
Bowel cancer (men and women)
Breast cancer (women)
Cervical cancer (women)