Australian children will face an increasingly higher risk of cancer in adulthood unless more is done to reduce childhood overweight and obesity, according to The Cancer Council Australia.
Speaking on World Cancer Day, The Cancer Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, warned that a more concerted effort was needed to combat obesity in order to minimise what would be an “inevitable growth” in the incidence of cancers and other chronic diseases.”Today’s school children are being put at greater risk of contracting obesity related cancers and other diseases in later life and that has to be big concern for all parents,” Professor Olver said.Launching the Australian component of a world-wide cancer prevention campaign, Today’s children, Tomorrow’s World, International Union Against Cancer President-elect, Professor David Hill, said Australia needed to join other countries in combating obesity and other causes of cancer through a much greater investment in prevention programs.The campaign is being run in more than 80 countries and focuses on tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, infections and overexposure to damaging ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and solariums.”Governments, businesses, community organisations, parents and carers need to act now to reduce the impact of cancer on children and future generations,” Professor Hill said. “Research shows that more than 40 per cent of the 88,000 cancers diagnosed each year in Australia can be prevented through healthier lifestyles established early in life. Limiting exposure to risk factors among children today will greatly reduce the long-term incidence and economic cost of cancer.” According to Professor Olver, the economic cost of cancer to Australia was estimated to be almost $3 billion a year and rising. “As a nation there is a lot that can be done to reduce the devastating human and economic cost,” he said.Professor Olver said there were simple steps all parents could take themselves and encourage their children to take to reduce their risk of cancer:
- Not use tobacco of any kind;
- Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly;
- Ensure children get vaccinations against cancer causing infections; and
- Limit over exposure to the sun and UV radiation.
“As a nation we are under-investing in cancer, a disease that Australians consistently rate as the one they most fear,” he said. “Cancer is responsible for around 28 per cent of deaths in Australia, but only accounts for a little over six per cent of the nation’s health budget.”Cancer killed more than seven million people worldwide in 2006, more than AIDS, malaria, diabetes, tuberculosis, malnutrition, violence and war combined, according to the World Health Organization.(Source: Cancer Council Australia: February 2007.)Click here to learn more about the cancer risk associated with being overweight and obesity.