New European code prescribes 12 ways to prevent cancer

Avoiding tobacco, alcohol and excessive sun exposure; maintaining a healthy body weight; and being physically active are among 12 ways to prevent cancer prescribed by the new European Code Against Cancer. The Code also recommends participation in organized screening programmes for bowel, breast and cervical cancer.

WHO’s specialized cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), developed the Code to improve cancer control. Revised with the best available scientific evidence, the 4th edition of the Code lists 12 ways to adopt healthier lifestyles and boost cancer prevention across Europe. It is the outcome of a two-year collaboration between cancer specialists, scientists and other experts.

“The Code raises awareness of the critical role of prevention in the fight against cancer,” says Dr Christopher Wild, Director of IARC. “By adopting the Code, all European citizens can take concrete action for themselves, their friends and families to significantly reduce their risk of developing cancer.”

The new edition of the Code includes other important recommendations to reduce cancer risk, such as breastfeeding, limitation of the use of hormone replacement therapy and vaccination against human papillomavirus. It also recommends finding out about potential exposure to radiation from radon at home and taking action to reduce high radon levels.