Over half of people live life how they want and hope that cancer won’t happen to them

Father carrying his son on his shoulders on an autumnal beach

New research from Aviva1, launched in advance of World Cancer Day, has revealed that there’s still work to be done when it comes to raising awareness of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Over half (59%) of those surveyed said they live life how they want and hope cancer won’t happen to them and a worrying one in five (20%) people were potentially putting their health at risk, admitting that they weren’t doing anything to help reduce their risk of developing cancer and other serious illnesses.   

A worrying one in five (20%) people were potentially putting their health at risk, admitting that they weren’t doing anything to help reduce their risk of developing cancer and other serious illnesses.

Around four in ten (42%)2 people said that they lead a really healthy lifestyle and many said that they were adopting at least one healthy behaviour to help control the risk of developing cancer and other serious illnesses. 

These included eating a balanced diet (29%), exercising regularly (27%), watching their weight (27%), wearing sun protection (30%) and reducing their sugar intake (22%). Around one in five (22%) said that they are taking steps to look after their mental wellbeing and one in ten said they had given up alcohol. 

While these findings are more positive, almost seven in ten people (67%) admitted that despite their best efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle, there’s more that they could do.  

Dr Suba M, Medical Director at Aviva UK Health, said: “It’s estimated that around four in ten cases of cancer in the UK every year could be prevented3 so it’s important that people are aware of their own risk factors, such as smoking, diet, obesity, drinking alcohol, physical activity and age and are empowered with the information, environment and support to help them control these risks.

It’s estimated that around four in ten cases of cancer in the UK every year could be prevented3 so it’s important that people are aware of their own risk factors, such as smoking, diet, obesity, drinking alcohol, physical activity and age and are empowered with the information, environment and  support to help them control these risks.

“It’s good to see that people are aready adopting healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, watching their weight and protecting themselves from the sun. This is also a trend we’re seeing through increased use of the wellbeing benefits Aviva offers through its health and protection products.

“Despite these positives, our research highlights that many people still feel that they could do more when it comes to their health. As an industry we have a role to play in enabling this. Whether it’s aiding early intervention through access to primary care such as private digital GP services or through the promotion of wellbeing benefits to consumers or workplace wellbeing initiatives, offering environments that support and actively encourage employee health and wellbeing.”

The research also showed that just under a third (32%) of people have consulted a GP with symptoms that they were concerned could be related to cancer. Nearly two in five (39%) of these GP visits took place in the past year. 

Concerns about breast cancer topped the list for GP visits for females (44%), followed by skin (21%) and cervical cancer (10%). For men, concerns about testicular cancer topped the list (22%), followed by skin cancer (21%) and prostate (16%). 

-Ends-

Sources:

1. The research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 2002 18+ national rep general consumers. The data was collected between 20.10.2023 - 24.10.2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

2. ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Somewhat agree’ responses combined.

3. The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015 | British Journal of Cancer (nature.com)

Enquiries:

Amber Scott

Protection and Health, Regulation

Notes to editors:

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