New Year...New You - 12 steps to a healthier life

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Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society are ringing in the changes for the New Year.

The two charities have joined forces to encourage everyone across the island of Ireland to make a few New Year resolutions to improve your health and your family’s health, and help lower your risk of cancer.

In Ireland almost 43,000 people (13,000 in Northern Ireland) are diagnosed with cancer every year and one in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime. However, many cancers can be prevented, so there’s no better time to make the switch to a healthier lifestyle.

The two charities have backed the European Code Against Cancer’s 12 Ways to lower the risk of cancer, which encourages everyone to make healthy choices.

The European Code was developed by the European Commission and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in a move to spread prevention messages across Europe. MLAs, MPs and MEPs are being urged to support the campaign for healthier lifestyles.

Cancer Focus NI Head of Cancer Prevention, Gerry McElwee, said: “We’re delighted to work along with the Irish Cancer Society to highlight these very important guidelines. Cancer is an international issue which doesn’t respect borders.

“The code lists some of the simple changes that could reduce the impact of cancer on our society. The top tip is ‘don’t smoke’. Other messages encourage a healthy diet, promote breastfeeding, vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and action against high levels of radon.

“We should also avoid using sunbeds and women are advised to limit hormone replacement therapy. Finally, everyone is urged to go for screening when called.”

Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention manager at the Irish Cancer Society, said: “This 12 point code provides clear evidence that about half of all cancers can be avoided. It reminds us of the simple changes that we can make in our lives now; like being more active can reduce our risk of suffering from cancer in the future. We are delighted to be working with our colleagues in Cancer Focus NI to bring this new Cancer Prevention Code to public attention across the island of Ireland.”

Cancer Focus NI has extensive cancer prevention services that go out to schools, workplaces and communities all over Northern Ireland. These include a Smokebusters club for primary school children, a schools’ health programme, Keeping Well vans that bring vital health checks into the heart of communities and stop smoking clinics.

For more information on these services please call 028 9066 3281 or email If you have any concerns about cancer call the Cancer Focus NI free helpline on 0800 783 3339.