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Keeping fit 20 Sep 2021

Steps to help prevent cancer

Vegetables being prepared

The choices you make every day can have a big impact on your chance of developing cancer - and you can start taking positive steps to help protect yourself straight away1.

Cancer is caused by damage to our DNA, the chemical instructions that direct the behaviour of cells in the body. Research has shown that the risk of developing cancer depends on our genetics and is strongly influenced by both environment and lifestyle factors2.

Abnormal cells can become cancerous and things such as UV rays, chemicals in tobacco smoke or poor diet can all damage DNA and cause cells to become abnormal2.

“A healthy lifestyle is not a guarantee of staying cancer free, but making wise choices significantly stacks the odds in your favour – as well as ensuring that you feel the best you can every day,” Dr Amit Sethi

Move more

Studies have shown that 30 minutes of moderate heart-rate raising physical activity every day can significantly reduce the risk of several major cancers3. This can be anything from a walk to a Zumba class. Exercise also helps maintain a healthy body weight, which is important as obesity can contribute to the development of several cancers, including uterine, kidney, pancreatic and breast.

Eat for health

A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables and low in processed food is key for your health and essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Research also suggests that eating more fibre, in the form of foods such as whole grains, cereals and nuts, can reduce the risk of bowel cancer4.

Drink sensibly

The International Agency for Research on Cancer5 has classified acetaldehyde, a chemical formed in our bodies when we drink alcohol, as being a carcinogen. The less alcohol we drink, the less acetaldehyde we produce, and the more we lower our risk. Drinking guidelines can be hard to follow but try to drink in moderation and have some alcohol free days a week.

Stub it out

If you smoke, then stubbing out your habit is the most effective way to protect against developing lung cancer – 72% of cases are related to smoking4 - as well as improving your overall health and wellbeing. If you need help quitting, there are number of tools available to you including nicotine replacement therapies and support groups to help with psychological addiction.

Protect your skin

Sunlight on skin is essential for vitamin D production and healthy bones - but unprotected sunbathing can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Keep an eye on moles or freckles that change in size, shape, colour or start bleeding. Sun safety means using sunscreen, not allowing yourself to burn and avoiding long periods of sun exposure, particularly during the middle of the day when UV rays are at their strongest4.


Simple steps to better daily health can have a positive effect on reducing your risk of developing cancer. As our customer, should you ever need to seek medical care and advice about cancer, Bupa Global can support you.


1. Mayo Clinic (, last accessed in September 2021

2. Cancer Research UK (, last accessed in September 2021

3. (, last accessed in September 2021

4. Macmillan Cancer Support (, last accessed in September 2021

5. Cancer Research UK (, last accessed in September 2021

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