You can reduce your risk of cancer. On this page you will learn how to reduce your risk of cancer and find resources for your use.
Steps to reduce your risk of cancer
The Irish Cancer Prevention Network Steps to Reduce Your Cancer graphic shows you how you can reduce your cancer risk.
- Do not smoke or use any form of tobacco. Make your home, car and workplace smoke free. For support to quit smoking go to www.quit.ie or call 1800 201 203.
- Be a healthy body weight. Take action to be a healthy body weight throughout life, from childhood to adulthood.
- Be physically active. Be physically active in everyday life as much as possible. Move more and sit less.
- Enjoy eating a healthy varied diet. Eat plenty of wholegrains, fruit and vegetables. Limit high-calorie foods such as “fast foods”, sugary drinks and foods high in sugar or fat. Avoid processed meat. If you eat red meat like beef, pork and lamb, limit about three portions per week.
- It’s best not to drink alcohol for cancer prevention. If you must drink alcohol stay below the recommended low risk guidelines. Be aware there is no safe limit of alcohol for cancer prevention. Alcohol eases the transfer of cancer causing substances in cigarettes through the body. Especially to the mouth, head and neck.
- Protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation from the sun and artificial sources. Follow the Healthy Ireland SunSmart 5’Ss from April to September:
- Slip on clothing that covers your skin such as, long sleeves, collared t-shirts.
- Slop on sunscreen on exposed areas, using factor 30+ for adults and 50+ for children.
- Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
- Seek shade – especially if outdoors between 11am and 3pm - and always use a sunshade on a child’s buggy.
- Slide on sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Avoid getting a sunburn. Never use a sunbed.
- Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency website provides more information. It is especially important to follow this advice if you are a current or ex-smoker. Smoking and radon exposure combined greatly increase your risk of lung cancer.
- For women, breastfeeding reduces the mother’s cancer risk. If you can, breastfeed your baby.
- Ensure your children take part in national vaccination programmes:
- Hepatitis B for newborns
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) for girls and boys in secondary school.
- For women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of certain cancers. Limit use of HRT.
- Take part in organised cancer screening programmes for bowel cancer (men and women), breast cancer (women), cervical cancer (women). For more information go to www.screeningservice.ie
Irish Cancer Prevention Network
The Irish Cancer Prevention Network (ICPN) was established in December 2018 to unite organisations with a role in cancer prevention, with the aim of working together to reduce cancer risk for the people of Ireland.
The initial four organisations that came together to found the ICPN were the HSE National Cancer Control Programme, Breakthrough Cancer Research, the Marie Keating Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society. We hope to grow the ICPN to include a broad range of organisations with a role in cancer prevention, so that we can all collaborate and co-ordinate our efforts to raise awareness and reduce cancer risk for people living in Ireland.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, yet is largely preventable by protecting skin from ultraviolet radiation from the sun or artificial sources. The National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022 aims to reduce skin cancer in Ireland. Click the links below for information about implementation of the plan and Healthy Ireland SunSmart resources for your use.
SunSmart 5'S to Protect Skin
SunSmart Kids Resources
SunSmart Outdoor Workers Resources