Cancer Prevention

On this page you will learn information on how to reduce your risk of cancer. You will also find resources for your use.

How to reduce your risk of cancer

Tobacco contains chemicals that cause cancer.  Tobacco products include cigarettes, roll your own, chewing, pipes or cigars. Quitting tobacco reduces your risk of at least 15 types of cancer. For support to quit smoking go to or call 1800 201 203.

Second hand tobacco smoke increases cancer risk. Make your home and car smoke free.

Too much body weight damages to cells in the body increasing cancer risk. Maintain a healthy body weight throughout your lifetime, from childhood to adulthood to reduce your risk of 12 types of cancer.

Physically activity reduces risk of bowel, breast and womb cancer.  Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75minutes of vigorous activity a week. Moderate physical activity makes you a little out of breath but you can talk comfortably. Vigorous activities will raise your heart rate and make you sweat and feel out of breath.

The food we eat can reduce cancer risk. Eating fruit, vegetables and wholegrains provide the body with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that reduce cell damage. Red and processed meat contain chemicals that increase risk of bowel cancer. Aim to eat no more than 3 portions of red meat a week and avoid processed meat. Coffee has been shown to reduce risk of liver cancer.      Avoiding ‘fast-foods, sugary drinks and sweets help maintain a healthy body weight which decreases risk of cancer

Alcohol increases the risk of at least 7 types of cancer, including mouth, throat, breast, stomach and liver. It damages the body’s cells, increases production of harmful chemicals in the body, and affects hormone production. Reduce your risk by decreasing alcohol or avoid alcohol altogether. 

Protect your skin from the sun and never use sunbeds to reduce risk of skin cancer. Follow the Healthy Ireland sunsmart steps, especially from April to September. Slip on clothing that covers your skin such. Slop on sunscreen, using factor 30+ for adults and 50+ for children. Slap on a wide-brimmed hat. Seek shade and always use a sunshade on a child’s buggy. Slide on sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas found in the environment that can increase risk of cancer. It can increase risk of lung cancer when it enters buildings and reaches high levels. The Environmental Protection Agency website provides information on how to check your home for radon gas levels It also provides advice on how to reduce levels in your home if you need to.

Breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk of breast cancer. When breastfeeding certain hormones decrease in the body reducing breast cancer risk, and it protects cells in the breast from changes. If you can breastfeed your baby

Vaccinations protect against cancer. HPV is a virus that can cause a range of cancers including cervical, penis, mouth and throat. The HPV vaccine protects against the HPV virus.  The HPV vaccine is offered to all girls and boys in secondary school to reduce cancer risk. Hepatitis B vacinee protects against liver cancer. It is offered to all newborns in Ireland.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can increase and decrease the risk of cancers for women. Talk to your GP about your HRT options and the cancer risk.

Some workplaces involve exposure to cancer causing substances, such as arsenic, asbestos, ultraviolet radiation. Follow your workplace health and safety instructions to help reduce the risk of your exposure to cancer-causing substances in your workplace.

Take part in organised cancer screening programmes. Go to bowel screening webpage, breast screening webpage or cervical screening webpage for more information. 

The Irish Cancer Prevention Network  

The Irish Cancer Prevention Network (ICPN) aims to reduce cancer risk for the people of Ireland.

The ICPN consists of the HSE National Cancer Control Programme, Breakthrough Cancer Research, the Marie Keating Foundation, the National Screening Service, the Irish Cancer Society, the National Screening Service and the Irish Skin Foundation. The ICPN supports and collaborates cancer risk reducation initiatives.



Quit smoking

ICPN Newsletters

Webinars to watch

For more information e-mail