According to British experts, more than 4 in 10 cancers could be prevented if people led healthier lives.
Latest figures from Cancer Research UK show smoking is the biggest avoidable risk factor, followed by unhealthy diets.
The charity is urging people to consider their health when making New Year resolutions.
Limiting alcohol intake and doing regular exercise is also good advice.
According to the figures spanning five years from 2007 to 2011, more than 300,000 cases of cancer recorded were linked to smoking.
A further 145,000 were linked to unhealthy diets containing too much processed food.
Obesity contributed to 88,000 cases and alcohol to 62,200.
Sun damage to the skin and physical inactivity were also contributing factors.
Prof Max Parkin, a Cancer Research UK statistician based at Queen Mary University of London, said: “There’s now little doubt that certain lifestyle choices can have a big impact on cancer risk, with research around the world all pointing to the same key risk factors.
“Of course everyone enjoys some extra treats during the Christmas holidays so we don’t want to ban mince pies and wine but it’s a good time to think about taking up some healthy habits for 2015.
“Leading a healthy lifestyle can’t guarantee someone won’t get cancer but we can stack the odds in our favor by taking positive steps now that will help decrease our cancer risk in future.”
Public Health England says a healthy lifestyle can play a vital role in reducing cancer risk.
British researchers have found that melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, is able to fend off the body’s immune system.
Analysis of tumor and blood samples shows that melanoma knocks out the body’s best immune defence.
A potential test could work out which patients are likely to respond to treatment, the Journal of Clinical Investigation reports.
Cancer Research UK said the body’s response was a “complex puzzle”.
Previous work from the team at King’s College London showed that while patients with melanoma produced antibodies that could attack tumor cells, the immune system often seemed powerless to stop the cancer progressing.
But in the latest research they discovered that the subtype of antibody attracted by the melanoma cells was the most ineffective at mounting the right sort of response.
In samples from 80 melanoma patients researchers say that the conditions created by the tumor attract IgG4 antibodies, which mount the weakest response and in turn interfere with any “strong” IgG1 antibodies that might be present.
By mimicking the conditions created by melanomas, they showed that in the presence of tumor cells, the immune system sent out IgG4 antibodies, but when faced with healthy cells it functioned as expected with IgG1 circulating.
They also confirmed that IgG4 was ineffective in launching an immune attack against cancer cells.
Melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, is able to fend off the body’s immune system
In additional tests in 33 patients, they found that those with higher levels of the weak antibody IgG4 had a less favorable prognosis compared with those with levels nearer to normal.
Study author Dr. Sophie Karagiannis said: “This work bears important implications for future therapies since not only are IgG4 antibodies ineffective in activating immune cells to kill tumors but they also work by blocking antibodies from killing tumor cells.”
She said not only was IgG4 stopping the patient’s more powerful antibodies from eradicating cancer, but it could also explain why some treatments based on boosting the immune response may be less effective in some patients.
Co-author Prof. Frank Nestle said more work was needed on developing IgG4 as a potential test to improve patient care by helping to identify patients most likely to respond to treatments.
“This study can also inform the rational design of novel strategies to counteract IgG4 actions,” he added.
Dr. Kat Arney, science communications manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “There’s a lot we don’t yet understand about how our immune system recognizes and responds to cancer, so we’re pleased to have supported this new research that’s helping to solve such a complex puzzle.
“This work is still at an early stage, but it’s a step towards developing more effective treatments for skin cancer and potentially other types of cancer in the future.”
British researchers have explained the way cancers make a chaotic mess of their genetic code in order to thrive.
Cancer cells can differ hugely within a tumor – it helps them develop ways to resist drugs and spread round the body.
A study in the journal Nature showed cells that used up their raw materials became “stressed” and made mistakes copying their genetic code.
Scientists said supplying the cancer with more fuel to grow may actually make it less dangerous.
Most normal cells in the human body contain 46 chromosomes, or bundles of genetic code. However, some cancerous cells can have more than 100 chromosomes.
And the pattern is inconsistent – pick a bunch of neighboring cells and they could each have different chromosome counts.
This diversity helps tumors adapt to become untreatable and colonize new parts of the body. Devising ways of preventing a cancer from becoming diverse is a growing field of research.
Scientists at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute and the University College London Cancer Institute have been trying to crack how cancers become so diverse in the first place.
It had been thought that when a cancer cell split to create two new cells, the chromosomes were not split evenly between the two.
However, lead researcher Prof. Charles Swanton’s tests on bowel cancer showed “very little evidence” that was the case.
Instead the study showed the problem came from making copies of the cancer’s genetic code.
British researchers have explained the way cancers make a chaotic mess of their genetic code in order to thrive
Cancers are driven to make copies of themselves, however, if cancerous cells run out of the building blocks of their DNA they develop “DNA replication stress”.
The study showed the stress led to errors and tumor diversity.
Prof. Charles Swanton said: “It is like constructing a building without enough bricks or cement for the foundations.
“However, if you can provide the building blocks of DNA you can reduce the replication stress to limit the diversity in tumors, which could be therapeutic.”
He admitted that it “just seems wrong” that providing the fuel for a cancer to grow could be therapeutic.
However, he said this proved that replication stress was the problem and that new tools could be developed to tackle it.
Future studies will investigate whether the same stress causes diversity in other types of tumor.
The research team identified three genes often lost in diverse bowel cancer cells, which were critical for the cancer suffering from DNA replication stress. All were located on one region of chromosome 18.
British researchers at the Cancer Research UK say aggressive pancreatic tumors may be treatable with a new class of drugs.
Less than one in five people with this form of cancer are still alive a year after being diagnosed.
A study, published in the journal Nature, showed that a gene was being switched off in the cancerous cells.
The researchers said drugs were already being tested which had the potential to turn the gene back on, to stop the spread of the cancer.
Around 7,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year and it is the fifth most deadly cancer.
British researchers at the Cancer Research UK say aggressive pancreatic tumors may be treatable with a new class of drugs
Studies in mice showed that a gene called USP9x, which normally stops a cell from dividing uncontrollably, is switched off in some pancreatic cancer cells.
The gene is not mutated, but other proteins and chemicals become stuck to it and turn the gene off.
Studies then showed that UPS9x was being turned off in human pancreatic cancer.
Prof. David Tuveson, from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, said: “We suspected that the fault wasn’t in the genetic code at all, but in the chemical tags on the surface of the DNA that switch genes on and off, and by running more lab tests we were able to confirm this.
“Drugs which strip away these tags are already showing promise in lung cancer and this study suggests they could also be effective.”
Dr. David Adams, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: “This study strengthens our emerging understanding that we must also look into the biology of cells to identify all the genes that play a role in cancer.”
They argue that up to 15% of pancreatic cancers could be down the turning this one gene off.
Dr. Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: “These results raise the possibility that a class of promising new cancer drugs may be effective at treating some pancreatic cancers.”
British scientists at University of Cambridge say they may have found a more efficient treatment of pancreatic cancer after promising early trial results of an experimental drug combination.
Giving the chemotherapy agent gemcitabine with an experimental drug called MRK003 sets off a chain of events that ultimately kills cancer cells, studies in mice show.
Patients are now testing the treatment to see if it will work for them.
The Cancer Research UK-funded trials are being carried out in Cambridge.
Father-of-two Richard Griffiths, 41, from Coventry, has been on the trial since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2011.
“After six cycles of treatment, a scan showed the tumours had reduced and so I have continued with the treatment,” Richard Griffiths said.
“The trial gives you hope – I really feel I can do this with the science behind me.”
Cancer Research UK says it is prioritizing research into pancreatic cancer because the survival rate still remains dismally low.
Survival rates in pancreatic cancer are very low in relation to other cancers, and the length of time between diagnosis and death is typically short, usually less than six months.
The most recent data for UK show that about 16% of patients survive the disease beyond 12 months after diagnosis – prompting the need for new treatments.
Professor Duncan Jodrell, who is leading the trials at the University of Cambridge, said: “We’re delighted that the results of this important research are now being evaluated in a clinical trial, to test whether this might be a new treatment approach for patients with pancreatic cancer, although it will be some time before we’re able to say how successful this will be in patients.”
In total, about 60 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer will be recruited for the first Phase I/II clinical trial.
Tesco announced ending of its support for the Cancer Research “Race for Life” while deciding to sponsor UK’s largest gay festival, Pride London.
Tesco has triggered outrage after its decision and some religious commentators and groups have condemned its action and are calling for a boycott of the supermarket chain.
The chain has worked with Cancer Research for more than ten years, raising hundreds of millions of pounds to help combat an illness that will affect one in three of the population.
Tesco’s main contribution was support for the annual fundraising Race for Life, the Britain’s largest women-only charity event, which has raised more than £400 million ($600 million) for the fight against cancer since it began in 1994.
Shortly after Tesco announced the partnership would end, the firm said it would be a headline sponsor of Pride London.
Pride London is UK’s largest gay pride event, and will be adding a second day next year when it hosts the global WorldPride 2012 festival in July.
Tesco’s chief executive of retailing services, Andrew Higginson, said: “Our <<Out at Tesco>> team will be working closely with Pride London to ensure next year’s event is even more fun.”
Francis Phillips, a commentator at The Catholic Herald, condemned the shift, saying: “Tesco is a supermarket.
“Its remit has been to sell good-quality food and other items at very reasonable prices, and in this it has been hugely successful.
“Why has it now aligned itself with an aggressive political organization such as Pride London?
“Why has it given up its sponsorship of Cancer Research? Or at least…why hasn’t it taken up with another mainstream charity such as the British Legion or Age UK?
“There are thousands of ex-servicemen and wounded soldiers needing help in this country, and millions of elderly people in danger of neglect.
“They are a fundamental part of the fabric of our society – the kind of fabric that Tesco should be reflecting.”
Tesco announced ending of its support for the Cancer Research "Race for Life" while deciding to sponsor UK’s largest gay festival, Pride Londono
David Skinner from the Anglican Mainstream organization, which supports traditional marriage and family life, has written to complain to Andrew Higginson and Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke.
David Skinner wrote: “For Tesco to sponsor a tiny homosexual minority – according to the Office for National Statistics, that amounts to little more than 1% of the population – will be showing the utmost contempt for a large proportion of British society that still adheres, more or less, to the morality and values of the Ten Commandments.”
Both Francis Phillips and David Skinner are calling on consumers to boycott Tesco.
“Let’s send Tesco a message: stick to groceries and stop dabbling in dubious fringe political movements,” said Francis Phillips.
Catholic campaign website Protect the Pope said Tesco’s decision was “a sign of how out of touch they have become from ordinary families”.
Cancer Research UK, which gave no sign of disappointment about losing Tesco’s support, is looking for a new partner for the Race for Life.
Emma Gilbert, who organizes the event, said the partnership “came to a natural end” for both parties.
“Tesco employees have taken part in events across the UK, raising over £7 million [$10 million] for our life-saving research, and we hope they will continue to take part in the events.”
Tesco said it was in talks with Cancer Research UK to support its work in other ways and would encourage staff to continue taking part in the Race for Life.
A spokesman said the decision to drop its support “is not connected to our £30,000 [$45,000] sponsorship for Pride, which is one of hundreds of community and charitable events that we will be supporting next year”.
Pride London chairman Paul Birrell said: “Whilst Pride is organized entirely by volunteers, it costs in excess of £800,000 [$1.2 million] to run each year.
“We are proud that Pride London remains a free event, but this is only possible because of companies like Tesco and their generous support.”
Paul Birell added that Tesco’s contribution would be used to run an entertainment area for families and children at next year’s festival.