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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Modern life pushes up cancer rate
People sunbathing on beach
Rates of skin cancer have soared in recent years
Too much food, alcohol and sun has fuelled a massive rise in some forms of cancer, warn UK experts.

Cases of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, have risen by 40% in the past decade, figures from Cancer Research UK show.

And mouth cancer, which is associated with smoking and drinking, has risen by almost a quarter.

Research has suggested that around half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle.

Rates of kidney cancer and womb cancer - both linked to obesity - have also shown rapid increases over the past 10 years.

Overweight and obese women are twice as likely to develop womb cancer as women of a healthy weight due to higher than normal exposure to the hormone oestrogen.

Sunburn

The charity is particularly concerned about rates of malignant melanoma which have doubled in women and tripled in men since the mid-80s.

Everyone can help reduce their risk of cancer by avoiding smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre and taking regular exercise
Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK

In 2004 there were 8,939 cases of malignant melanoma compared with 5,783 in 1995.

They said heavy sun exposure accounted for the vast majority of cases.

However, the figures from the UK Association of Cancer Registries show rates of cervical cancers are falling as a result of the national screening programme.

And due to fewer people smoking, lung cancer rates are continuing to decrease, especially in men.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of health information, said: "We're very concerned that cases of malignant melanoma are spiralling.

"Most cases of this disease could be prevented if people protected themselves in the sun and took care not to burn."

CHANGE IN CANCER RATES BETWEEN 1995 AND 2004
Cases of malignant melanoma rose from 5,783 to 8,939 - a 43% increase
Cases of mouth cancer rose from 3,696 to 4,769 - a 23% increase
Cases of womb cancer rose from 5,018 to 6,438 - a 21% increase
Cases of kidney cancer rose from 5,636 to 7,044 - a 14% increase

She also advised people to be on the look out for signs of mouth cancer, which include an ulcer or sore in the mouth or on the tongue, a red or white patch in the mouth or an unexplained pain in the mouth or ear, as there is a good chance of cure if caught early.

"Everyone can help reduce their risk of cancer by avoiding smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre and taking regular exercise," she added.

Dr Colin Waine, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said a 10 kg weight loss reduced a person's risk of dying from cancer by 40%.

"Obesity is linked with a number of cancers - post-menopausal breast cancer and endometrial cancer are the main ones in women and bowel cancer in men - and that's something we've known for a while."


SEE ALSO
Sun protection warnings ignored
12 Jul 07 |  Health

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