However, prevention efforts can also be more effective in times of crisis. As people give up or reduce unhealthy lifestyle habits in order to reduce costs, they may be particularly receptive to new and healthier choices, say the researchers. "Governments could also play their part by taking the opportunity to levy higher taxes on tobacco, alcohol and other unhealthy goods like trans fats or processed sugar and channelling the revenue thus derived towards job-creating disease prevention and social welfare programmes," said Dr. Martin-Moreno.
The issue places special emphasis on the need to address cancer prevention using a holistic and global approach, focusing on the 'big four' risk factors of smoking, obesity, alcohol and physical inactivity. This represents a fundamental shift away from the reductive approach of earlier research, which meant looking narrowly, often in isolation, at multiple micro-components of diet and lifestyle, say the editors.
A paper by Dr. Esther de Vries, from the Department of Public Health, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands and colleagues, looks at the impact of preventing weight gain and increasing physical activity on colon cancer incidence in seven European countries. The researchers used the PREVENT  statistical modelling method to make projections of future colon cancer incidence, both with and without realistic intervention scenarios involving physical activity and BMI reductions. Data studied came from cancer registries in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Latvia, The Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
The incidence of colon cancer in Europe has increased since 1975, and comprised 13.6% of the estimated European cancer burden by 2008. It is the second most common cancer in Europe and also the second most common cause of cancer death.
|Contact: Mary Rice|
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation