Healthy lifestyle can reduce cancer diagnosis

NEARLY a third of all cancers diagnosed in Warrnambool could be prevented, figures show. 

Data released by the Cancer Council has revealed up to 187 new cancer diagnoses are made each year in the city — but it’s estimated at least a third of these could be prevented through a mix of measures including a healthier lifestyle and cuts to drinking and smoking.

Greater Green Triangle University department of rural health Professor James Dunbar said there was gathering evidence behind alcohol and poor diet leading to cancers. 

“There’s some evidence that exercise and normal weight might reduce bowel cancers,” he said. 

“Colon cancer seems to have a high prevalence in people with poorer diets. 

“There are also links between alcohol and cancer of the liver.”

He said lung cancer caused by smoking was still a major issue. “It’s the least treatable of all the cancers,” Professor Dunbar said. 

In a positive development, the Cancer Council says the south-west has above-average figures for women undertaking cervical screening rates to detect cervical cancer. 

About 63,598 women in the south-west (62.6 per cent of the eligible female population) underwent the life-saving Pap test, according to a report based on 2012 figures. 

National guidelines recommend all women aged 18 to 70 who have ever been sexually active undergo a Pap test every two years.

In Warrnambool, 63 per cent of women took the screening test in 2012. Figures in Moyne Shire were similar at 62 per cent. 

Glenelg Shire had the least number of women seeking the test at 56.70. 

PapScreen Victoria manager Hiranthi Perera said there was still ground to be made. 

“It’s great to see so many women from Barwon South West taking advantage of the cervical screening technology available and making Pap tests a priority, but there are still many women who are not having Pap tests as often as they should,” she said.