The importance of raising awareness of cancer

Jason explains ways to reduce risk of cancer

Written by Jason Nolan


Normally when we hear the "C" word "cancer", it is something that we do not like to talk about as it affects the lives of so many people, however, it is so important that we do talk and raise awareness. If we do not talk, how are we going to fight cancer?

The proportion of cancers caused by inherited faulty genes is small. Experts estimate that only about 2 or 3 in every 100 cancer cases are linked to inherited gene faults. It is estimated that 4 out of 10 cancers can be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes. Here is some information on the causes and ways to reduce the risks of getting cancer.


Smoking is the biggest cause of cancer. It is linked to lung, mouth and throat cancer.

Ways to reduce the risk:

  • Start by even cutting down on the amount of cigarettes you smoke
  • Talk to a doctor or use websites such as


Obesity is the second biggest cause of cancer after smoking. Extra fat in the body can have harmful effects, like producing hormones and growth factors that affect the way our cells work.

Ways to reduce the risk:

  • Start small and try to go for a 15 minute walk a day or even get a walking group together – this can make a huge difference to both your physical and mental health
  • Find an activity that you enjoy doing 
  • Look at ways of eating healtier


Alcohol acts as an irritant. It damages cells leading to DNA changes in the cells that can be a step towards cancer.

Ways to reduce the risk:

  • Decide on a limit 
  • Tell a friend that you are cutting down, they may support you

The sun

Over-exposure to UV rays may lead to skin cancer. This is one of the most common kinds of cancer but also one of the most preventable.

Ways to reduce the risk:

  • Wear suncream and a cap during hot weather
  • Try to limit your exposure to the sun by staying in the shade

Signs and symptoms of Cancer

  • A sore or bruise that does not heal
  • New lumps or growths on our skin
  • An ongoing cough or hoarseness that lasts more than three weeks
  • Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss or tiredness

Don't be afraid to ask for help from a doctor or cancer helpline if you notice something wrong. Thousands of lives could be saved each year if people were more aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and people looked for help as soon as possible as treatment is usually more effective in the early stages of cancer. The Irish Cancer Society provides a cancer nurse line.

Statistics in Ireland

Report from the Irish Cancer Society as of January, 2017. Nine out of ten lung cancer cases are due to smoking By 2020, 1 in 2 people in Ireland will develop cancer during their lifetime. 1 in 4 deaths in Ireland are caused by cancer. Cancer is the second biggest killer in Ireland. Over 9000 deaths each year are from cancer.  

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