Today is World Cancer Day, when campaigners want to raise awareness of the disease and push governments to take action to save millions of preventable deaths each year.
Sadly cancer is still the second biggest cause of premature death in Europe. In the East Midlands, for every 100,000 deaths, 290 are due to cancer and Cancer Research UK estimates that 92,616 years of life were lost to cancer in the East Midlands between 2012 and 2014. Breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer remain the most common cancers in the region.
One in two people in the UK will get cancer at some point in their life, yet it’s thought that at least 40 per cent of cancers could be prevented. For example, you can reduce your risk of cancer by adopting a diet high in fibre and fresh fruit and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol.
As Labour’s European health spokesperson, I’ve been working hard to raise awareness of these issues at a European level and to push for policies that will help governments and people to fight cancer. There’s lots that the EU can do to help, whether that’s providing funding for research, helping Member States to share best practice on prevention and screening programmes or ensuring people have the information they need to make healthier choices.
I’ve campaigned for a long time for stricter rules on tobacco packaging so I’m pleased that from May this year health warnings will have to cover most of the pack. With lung cancer the leading cause of cancer death in the East Midlands, I hope this will help to reduce the number of smoking-related cancers diagnosed every year.
World Cancer Day is an opportunity to raise the profile of cancer in people’s minds and I would encourage everyone to visit cancerresearchuk.org to find out more.
Labour MEP for the East Midlands