Your Health, Your Choice

You can cut your risk of cancer by 30-50% by making changes to your daily routine. In 2016, surveys found that 6,200 newly diagnosed cancer cases were attributable to modifiable lifestyle choices.

So how can we all do our part to help reduce our risk of cancer?

Like many people, you may feel that cancer is down to bad luck or genes. While this can often be the case, did you know that four in ten  cancers could be prevented if we made changes to seven aspects of our everyday life? That is why the Marie Keating Foundation created the Your Health: Your Choice campaign. Here, you can find out what these changes are and how you can fit them into your life to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Scientists estimate that we can help prevent four out of ten cancers by:

  • Not Smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet and being a healthy weight
  • Being physically active
  • Avoiding too much sun
  • Limiting how much alcohol you drink
  • Taking up cancer screening services
  • Being vaccinated



Quit smoking to reduce your risk

One in every two smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease. Don’t be one of them. Don’t start smoking, or if you already do, quit smoking now. The annual death toll from smoking-related diseases in Ireland is at least 5,500, with many thousands more, and their families, affected by chronic illness and disability.

If you are a smoker, speak to your doctor or pharmacist today for advice on how to quit. You can also call the National Smoker’s Quitline for free on 1800 201 203 or Freetext QUIT to 50100.

You can find more tips to help you quit smoking and information about lung cancer from our sections:

Not Smoking | Smoking and Lung Cancer | Kicking the Habit 

Limit how much alcohol you drink

Alcohol causes seven  types of cancers including head and neck, bowel and breast cancers. The latest advice from medical experts to reduce your risk of cancer, is you should not drink at all. Less is best and none is better. If you do drink, drink no more than 11 standard drinks a week if you are a woman and 17 standard drinks a week if you are a man. Be aware that your drink may contain more than one standard drink. For example, one pint has two standard drinks in it. A small glass of wine (100ml) is a standard drink. A large glass of wine (200ml) is two standard drinks.

You can find out more about how alcohol contributes to causing cancer, and what you can do to minimise your risks from our sections:

Drink less to prevent cancer | Increased cancer risk and alcohol

Avoid too much sun exposure and never use sunbeds

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. There are almost 10,000 non-melanoma skin cancers and over 1,211 melanomas diagnosed every year. Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. That means that most cases of skin cancer are preventable. Whatever your age, the best way to enjoy the sun safely and protect your skin from sunburn is to use a combination of:

• Seek shade - especially between 11am -3pm

• Clothing - cover up with a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and long sleeved clothing

• Use Sun-protection factor (sunscreen) of at least 30 for adults and 50 for children

Get more information from our sections:

About skin cancer | Be sun smart

Eat a healthy diet and be a healthy weight

Research shows that many types of cancer are more common in people who are overweight or obese, including two of the most common types of cancer in Ireland: breast and bowel. If you are a healthy weight this will help to reduce your risk for many cancers.

Find out why a healthy diet and weight are so important on our sections:

Diet, weight and cancer risk | Eat well to stay healthy

Be physically active

If you are physically active, this will help to reduce your risk of getting these cancers:

  • Colon (large bowel)
  • Endometrial (lining of the womb)
  • Post-menopausal breast cancer.

Try to get 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 times a week. And any activity is beneficial even if you do not lose no weight.

You should also try to have a healthy body weight. It will reduce your risk of developing several illnesses, especially some cancers mentioned above.

Find out more about how to be active and a healthy weight on our sections:

Get active and reduce your risk of cancer | Keep fit with Mairead Cooney

Take part in screening services:

Screening is for healthy people without symptoms to help detect cancer, or pre-cancerous cells in their earliest stages.

Screening services are available in Ireland through the National Screening Service which screens at risk groups for breast, cervical and bowel cancer. 

Find out more about screening, what it does and who is eligible for testing here.

Screening: What you need to know

Getting Vaccinated:

One fifth of all cancers are caused by infections. 

HPV causes 90% of cervical cancers worldwide, as well as a range of other cancers, but it can be prevented through vaccinations.

80% of the adult population in the world will come in to contact with HPV at some point in their lives, vaccination from HPV saves millions of lives each year.

To learn more about the human papillomavirus, its vaccine and how you can reduce your risk, click here.

Vaccines/ HPV: What you need to know




YHYC 2023 Proudly supported by:

Marie Keating Foundation

NICORETTE® contains nicotine. Stop smoking aid. Requires willpower. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. | IE-NI-2200130
JNTL Consumer Health I (Ireland) Limited will donate €30,000 to The Marie Keating Foundation, Registered Charity Number 20038953, in relation to this charitable campaign. No purchase necessary