40% cancers caused by lifestyle!

Well well here we go again! Let’s blame the victim. This story hit the news last night and suggests that 40% of those people diagnosed with a cancer are to blame for getting it in the first place through bad diet, smoking, being overweight or drinking alcohol.
How come I was relatively fit, not overweight, don’t smoke, drink alcohol infrequently and have a reasonable diet but I still got it?
Lots of women ive met since tell the same story.
Perhaps more effort needs to be put into looking at environmental factors and of course the HRT debate.
If they would put more effort into researching why more and more women are getting this dreadful disease instead of spending £s telling us something that tries to guilt us and influence the general public into giving less and caring less for cancer sufferers.

Anyway this research could be related to lots of other illnesses e.g. heart disease.

Hi Magda,

I couldn’t agree more! My OH said to me last nite about this, and I said exactly the same, I drink alcohol on the very odd occasion, dont smoke, not overweight, try to keep fit and have a very good diet. Yep got the BC in both breasts. Where are these people coming from??? All you get told is, yes well you were one of the unlucky ones… No BC in my family either. I think the HRT debate should be looked at closely too.


Totally agreed Magda, i was very healthy, not overweight, ate loads of fruit and veg, excercised regularly, dont smoke, drink occasionally but not every week! Grrr

It’s worth remembering that with those figures 60% are not caused by lifestyle - so that’s the majority!

It’s a very fine line between blame and trying to get people to take some responsibility for their health. Having worked as a nurse in the past I can see both sides.

Clearly if people can do things like give up smoking, lose weight (I’m trying to), cut down on alcohol etc and it will help them to have a healthier life hopefully although not definitely without cancer or other diseases then that’s a good thing.

The problem is that all this information doesn’t seem to be working so I’d like to see more being done to look at the root cause of unhealthy behaviours and what can be done as a society rather than trying to attribute blame.

I also totally agree on the issue of environmental factors. I think that’s likely to be having a big impact but then of course that’s harder to resolve. Elinda x

we have been discussing this on our November thread, and its also been highlighted by one of our ladies that it seems to coincide with the government plans to change benefits system for those on Chemo.

I am also a non smoker, relatively healthy, not overweight, Yes i drink (well did, before sugery and chemo) and probably more than the recommended (see i am honest) i don’t really eat a great deal of fruit and veg, i probably never have 5 a day, more like 2.

and i totally agree that this research could be related to other illnesses

One of our group also knows the journalist who wrote the report in the Guardian, i’ll give her a nudge about this post, see if she want to comment on this thread

Just going to share a link from our thread regarding a petition about cuts to benefits, most of us have signed it

macmillan.org.uk/Aboutus/New … hecks.aspx

Gill x

Yeah, Yeah. Well why don’t we all adopt the china diet then - that’s supposed to be the best for preventing breast cancer isn’t it?. Oh dear, maybe not, China has the highest rate of stomach cancer in the world.

Hi ladies, I commented on the BBC website thread to the effect I’m a boring healthy, five-a-day, never-smoking, TT, exercising, under 50, slim breast cancer person… and that this research says 60% are not lifestyle related anyway. They phoned me to follow up and the researcher was quite clued up (understood remission/NED). I said we have enough tendency to guilt (see the benchland thread for example) without this as well - she agreed! Maybe others might want to comment too?

Until they can categorically state what causes cancer with no doubt then these assumptions and stats are completely false. I did smoke and gave up, was and still is TT, never been overweight and always ate healthy and was very fit, ok so I smoked BUT as everyone on here so far has commented you lot did not smoke and you still got it. When I was told my dx my partner asked my onc was it the smoking that caused my breast cancer he replied “we just dont know, if we knew what caused cancer we would have a cure” well said because quite simply we dont know what causes cancer and we could go on all night speculating about this but ultimately you end up going round in circles trying to figure it out which is just impossible. Hopefully one day they will know what causes it and will develop a cure but until that day I will not take the blame for my cancer. My personal theory is related to my age and hormones I used to suffer with period migranes every month really bad and now think this was a warning sign of what was to come with this BC, since chemo and starting on tamoxifen I’ve been plunged into an early menopause I no longer have those awful headaches, clearly my hormones were ‘playing up’ the monthly migrane was something I suffered with for a bout 5 years.

When I was in hospital recently having herceptin I was chatting to a young girl who’s 29 she only found out by accident she had BC when she gave birth to her 2nd child and she never smoked, drank etc Also speaking to a lady when I was in hospital having my mx she told me that her and her best friend who was a nun also was dx with BC both of them had it the nun had converted at the age of 16 never drank never smoked ate a vegetarian diet.

Sending love and light

This is the fourth or fifth “news” item like this that has come out in the past year. I know it’s a year because I was diagnosed a year today and have been hypersensitive to all the media nonsense since then.

The problem is not necessarily with the research itself (I admit I haven’t bothered to read this one, sounds just the same as all the other reports this year) but with the way it is reported. The research is (almost certainly) talking about RISK, which is something that is fairly meaningless on an individual level. The problem is the reporters like a nice, tidy sound-bite, and so instead of saying “X increases the risk of getting cancer by 40%”, they say “X is to blame for 40% of cancers” (which is not the same thing) and then go on playing Chinese Whispers until it turns into “40% of people with cancer caused it themselves”. Makes my blood boil, but I’ve given up getting upset about this kind of report because there have just been so many.

(But god help anyone who asks me what was it I did to cause my cancer, because I’ll clock 'em!)

It’s a bit like saying “I had a car crash at the end of my road, so the car crash must have been my own fault because I was driving near my house,” when in fact the STATS say, “you are xx times more likely to have a crash within 5 miles of your own home than elsewhere”.

Almost universally, media reporters don’t have a clue about statistics and just DON’T UNDERSTAND, either the stats, or the distress they cause to people who have been diagnosed, or the dilution of the message to those who haven’t - instead it turns into a finger-pointing exercise pointing at those who have the disease rather than a self-examination lesson where people look at their own lives and see what they can do to make themselves healthier.

I am so fed up with being blamed for getting cancer. I have two grown up children and fed my babies for six and eight months, I have always eaten a healthy diet, I am not overweight, I exercise regularly and am fit, I don’t drink, I have never smoked. Yes, I took HRT, BUT, and this is a big but, my breast cancer is triple negative, so no hormone involvement. This type of cancer is supposed to affect young women, with maybe an afro caribbean background. I am 65 years old and having researched both sides of my family tree know definitely I am from boringly white, anglo saxon stock. So what have I not done that I should have done? Why do the media want me to be guilty for being affected by cancer? It’s bad enough wondering if you have done anything to cause it in the first place without the media shouting at you that, Yes, it is all your fault.
There I’ve had my rant and feel a bit better now.
Love and hugs to everyone out there

I think the government should link lifestyle to all the pesticides and anti-biotics, hormone growths and air pollution in our environment.

We may eat healthily but our fruit and veg are probably already contaminated with toxins whether peeled or not! They are spending millions trying to create the perfect disease free fruit and veg and plumper leaner meat and we haven’t a clue what poisonous substances we are digesting that from animals could have caused cancer in humans - e.g. hormone growth injections to make the animal fatter!

Who can afford a completely organic diet these days!

I firmly believe Stress also has a link to it, from personal experience (see Stress Forum link)

How many Victorian women had BC?

Fewer than nowadays, Daysie, but that’s because so many of them died when having their babies!

Queen Victoria, she had babies and was fat-ish! lol

As a friend of mine pointed out is it a coincidence that at the same time cancer is portrayed as being largely our fault, the govt are introducing plans to have chemo patients assessed to see if they are entitled to benefits. How better to reduce the outrage at such a plan, than to suggest that it was our own fault anyway. Maybe I an a cynic but it really wouldn’t surprise me.

My geneticist says that a lot of research is now turning towards the trigger being viral. Who knows?!


I thought the Victorians called cancer consumption ?? before they really knew what it was, If this is the case then that era had a lot of BC as well.

Daysie - your absolutely right, I have never had any children and I have never been bigger than a size 10 you cant win you get it if you’ve had kids if you havent had kids if you are large or skinny no matter it seems cancers not picky.

Midge - Yes I’ve heard about the viral connection

Sarahlousie xxx

I would love to see the lifestyle risk factors compared to the risk factors we can’t have as much control over. For example, one of the highest risk factors is being female, and another one is getting older, and there’s sod all any of us can do about that (and then what about the men who get BC, they’ve even avoided the biggest risk factor and STILL got it!)

For pre-menopausal women, being a bit overweight is supposed to REDUCE your risk.

Having lots of babies and starting having them early is also supposed to reduce your risk, but having lots of babies and very young carries other risks.

HRT or having taken the pill wasn’t generally seen as a risk when some of us were younger (or if it was, nobody told us!) so are we “to blame” if we took the pill? Should the contraceptive pill and HRT be banned because it increases the risk of getting BC?

I REFUSE to be blamed for my cancer!

Here here, well said chocciemuffin when I was a younger I went on the pill at 16 which is very young the only worry back in those days was getting pregnant and then a bit later getting Aids not getting BC when your older no one warned me about that, I was on it for about 10 years. I think some research into the pill/HRT connection would be good idea.

I think this sort of reporting about cancer and what causes it is dangerous in how it affects those of us living with BC. I have found it difficult and upsetting enough coping with the reactions of family and friends who often understand little about living with BC and are not always supportive in the long term. Such reports only tend to make this worse. We certainly don’t need that. No one knows yet what causes cancer but it seems like they clutch at straws and like to point fingers at the victims. Again, we don’t need that. The media just love making headlines and distorting facts.

I like choccie, refuse to be blamed for my cancer!!! Have no guilt whatsoever and am annoyed because why do the headlines not read 60% of people haven’t caused their cancers??? Why are over half getting cancer in the first place then? No it’s always play the blame game, sounds much better if the finger can be pointed at YOU. I can’t be bothered with the news headlines and if someone ever said to me that perhaps I got bc because I was fat, drank too much etc (which I’m not and I haven’t) I would suggest they start running now, rant over back to the f*****g furious bench for me.x

So that’s what CRUK have been wasting donors’ hard-earned money on - propagating this misleading and hurtful nonsense.

And here was me thinking they were doing something useful.