Your Health, Your Choice


You can cut your risk of cancer

Like many people, you may feel that cancer is down to bad luck or genes. However, did you know that 4 in 10 cancers could be prevented if we made simple changes to 5 parts of our everyday life? That is why the Marie Keating Foundation created the Your Health: Your Choice campaign. On this website, you can find out what these changes are and how you can fit them into your life to reduce your risk of getting cancer.

Scientists estimate that we can help prevent 4 out of 10 cancers by:


Quit smoking to reduce your risk

smoking-iconOne in every two smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease. Don’t be one of them. Don’t start smoking, or if you already do quit smoking now. The annual death toll from smoking-related diseases in Ireland is at least 5,200, with many thousands more, and their families, affected through chronic illness and disability.

If you are a smoker, speak to your doctor or pharmacist today for advice on how to quit. You can also call the National Smoker’s Quitline for free on 1800 201 203 or Freetext QUIT to 50100.

You can find more tips to help you quit smoking and information about lung cancer from our sections:

Smoking, the factsStop smokingAbout lung cancer

Limit how much alcohol you drink

alcohol-iconEach year in Ireland, 900 people are diagnosed with alcohol-related cancers and around 500 people die from these diseases. The amount of alcohol per person that we drink in Ireland is above the European average.

Alcohol causes 7 types of cancers including head and neck, bowel and breast cancers. The less alcohol you drink, the lower the risk cancer and many other cancers and diseases. If you do drink, drink no more than 11 standard drinks a week if you are a women and 17 standard drinks a week if you are a man. Be aware that your drink may contain more than one standard drink. For example, one pint has two standard drinks in it. A small glass of wine (100ml) is a standard drink. A large glass of wine (200ml) is two standard drinks.

You can find out more about how alcohol contributes to causing cancer, and what you can do to minimise your risks from our sections:

Drink less to prevent cancerWhy and how should I drink less?

Avoid too much sun exposure and never use sunbeds

sun-iconSkin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. Over 10,000 cases were diagnosed in 2011 and the number of diagnoses is rising each year. Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. That means that most cases of skin cancer are preventable. Whatever your age, the best way to enjoy the sun safely and protect your skin from sunburn is to use a combination of:

• Shade

• Clothing

• Sun-protection factor (sunscreen).

Get more information from our sections:

About skin cancerBe sun smart | Interview: Advice from a dermatology consultant on preventing and spotting skin cancer

Eat a healthy diet and be a healthy weight

diet-iconResearch shows that many types of cancer are more common in people who are overweight or obese, including two of the most common types of cancer in Ireland: breast and bowel cancers. If you are a healthy weight you will reduce your risk for many cancers.

Find out why a healthy diet and weight are so important on our sections:

Diet, weight and cancer riskAdvice from a leading nutritionist on a healthy diet that reduces your cancer risk

Be physically active

exercise-iconIf you are physically active, you will reduce your risk of getting these cancers:

  • Colon (large bowel)
  • Endometrial (lining of the womb)
  • Post-menopausal breast cancer.

Try to get 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 times a week. And activity is beneficial even if you lose no weight.

You should also try to have a healthy body weight. It will reduce your risk of developing several conditions – especially some cancers.

Find out more about how to be active and a healthy weight on our sections:

Get active and reduce your risk of cancerInterview with a researcher on how exercise helps to prevent cancer