Amidst the daily sadness of cancer sufferers and their families worldwide, the fight against all forms of cancer is surely a source of great optimism?
The latest research just released by Cancer Research UK shows that relative survival rates continue to improve – “UK survival for all cancers combined for both men and women has doubled since the 1970s”. And if you look at the graph demonstrating such improvements in survival rates since the 70’s if the upward trend continues these survival rates are set to continue on a curve of significant improvement (link to the research below).
The headline of the research was of a far more sombre subject “Men are 35% more likely to die of cancer than women”. One can attempt to explain the historically dramatic difference by reasons of physical, psychology, physiology, occupational and work-life balance between men and women. Yet the difference in mortality rates between the sexes continues to be starkly significant.
It may be of little surprise that the research found that “more than 40 per cent of cancers in men could be prevented by changes to lifestyle”. After all sadly, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption are far more commonly associated with men than women.
However what might be far more surprising to many is that “After smoking, being overweight, drinking alcohol and poor diets are the most important causes of cancer in men”. In fact a poor diet – ‘low fruit and veg diet’ – is the second most important cause of cancer in men, only behind alcohol.
This cannot be explained away by many male diets being poor in decades gone by – and now only manifesting itself in cancers now. Indeed most people would argue that despite the huge increase in our knowledge of the importance of good nutrition over recent decades many people’s diets have markedly declined with highly processed foods, fast and convenience foods, high salts and sugars amongst the common ‘culprits’.
So what is to be done to improve male cancer mortality rates linked to poor diet. The Government are expending significant sums on the ‘five-a-day’ message. Chef Jamie Oliver genuinely seemed to care, and do his best, to educate and change the poor eating habits of many youngsters at an early age with his school meals campaign.
Should the Government seek a more radical approach and impose taxes and subsidies on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods? For example subsidising the cost, for everyone, of all fruit and vegetables in shops; whilst imposing extra taxes on food items high in trans-fats, salts and sugars etc.?
As always – I would love to have your thoughts and comments on this matter – use the ‘leave a reply’ option below.
The relevant Cancer Research UK article: Cancer Research UK Report