Smoking Couple
Smoking is a major cancer causing factor. REUTERS

A study asserts that almost half of the cancers diagnosed each year in the UK are due to people's unhealthy lifestyles.

Addiction to smoking, drinking and eating in an unhealthy manner are the main causes of cancer. Nearly half of the cancers diagnosed in the UK each year - more than 130,000 - are caused by choices like smoking, drinking and eating in excess, a review reveals.

The report concludes tobacco as the biggest culprit; 23 percent cases in men and 15.6 percent cases in women showed that cancer was caused by smoking.

The Cancer Research UK report, published by the British Journal of Cancer, finds lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in men's diet as a major cause of cancer. The study also finds that overweight women are more prone to cancer.

"Many people believe cancer is down to fate or 'in the genes' and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it," the BBC quoted the lead author Prof. Max Parkin.

"Looking at all the evidence, it's clear that around 40 per cent of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change."

It is advisable for men to quit smoking, reduce alcohol intake and add more fruits and vegetable to their platters.

Similarly women can alter their smoking habits and keep a check on weight.

"We didn't expect to find that eating fruit and vegetables would prove to be so important in protecting men against cancer. And among women we didn't expect being overweight to be more of a risk factor than alcohol," added Parkin.

The BBC writes that in total 14 lifestyle and environmental factors, such as where you live and the job you do, combine to cause 134,000 cancers in the UK each year.

The work environment is another major factor in cancer. For instance, people who work in factories and are exposed to harmful chemicals are more susceptible.

In the same way that smoking is linked to lung cancer, the study links obesity with breast cancer.

The BBC highlights other interesting facts found by the study. For oesophageal or gullet cancer, half of the risk comes from eating too few fruits and vegetables, while only a fifth of the risk is from alcohol.

Too much salt intake can cause stomach cancer.

Unhealthy lifestyle can again cause mouth and throat cancer.

The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Richard Thompson, told the BBC: "The findings were a wake-up call to the government to take stronger action on public health."

"The rising incidence of preventable cancers shows that the 'carrot' approach of voluntary agreements with industry is not enough to prompt healthy behaviours, and needs to be replaced by the 'stick' approach of legislative solutions".

The government reports the BBC is intending to begin a consultation on plain packaging by the end of this year.

"We all know that around 23,000 cases of lung cancer could be stopped each year in England if people didn't smoke," the BBC quotes Public Health Minister Anne Milton.

"By making small changes we can cut our risk of serious health problems - give up smoking, watch what you drink, get more exercise and keep an eye on your weight."