The world is facing a “tidal wave” of cancer, and restrictions on alcohol and sugar need to be considered, say World Health Organization (WHO) scientists.
It predicts the number of cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.
The WHO said there was now a “real need” to focus on cancer prevention by tackling smoking, obesity and drinking.
The World Cancer Research Fund said there was an “alarming” level of naivety about diet’s role in cancer.
Fourteen million people a year are diagnosed with cancer, but that is predicted to increase to 19 million by 2025, 22 million by 2030 and 24 million by 2035.
The world is facing a “tidal wave” of cancer, and restrictions on alcohol and sugar need to be considered
The developing world will bear the brunt of the extra cases.
The WHO’s World Cancer Report 2014 said the major sources of preventable cancer included:
Obesity and inactivity
Radiation, both from the sun and medical scans
Air pollution and other environmental factors
Delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding
For most countries, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. However, cervical cancer dominates in large parts of Africa.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a major cause. It is thought wider use of the HPV and other vaccines could prevent hundreds of thousands of cancers.
One of the report’s editors, Dr. Bernard Stewart from the University of New South Wales in Australia, said prevention had a “crucial role in combating the tidal wave of cancer which we see coming across the world”.
Dr. Bernard Stewart said human behaviour was behind many cancers such as the sunbathe “until you’re cooked evenly on both sides” approach in his native Australia.
Experts say that people watching their weight should pay close attention to how much alcohol they drink since it is second only to fat in terms of calorie content.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), alcohol makes up nearly 10% of total calorie intake among drinkers.
Having a large glass of wine will cost you the same 178 calories as eating two chocolate digestive biscuits.
And it will take you more than a half hour’s brisk walk to burn off.
Eating or drinking too many calories on a regular basis can lead to weight gain.
But unlike food, alcoholic drinks have very little or no nutritional value.
The “empty calories” in drinks are often forgotten or ignored by dieters, says the WCRF.
Experts say that people watching their weight should pay close attention to how much alcohol they drink since it is second only to fat in terms of calorie content
Kate Mendoza, head of health information at WCRF, said: “Recent reports have shown that people are unaware of calories in drinks and don’t include them when calculating their daily consumption.”
Containing 7 kcal/g, alcohol is only slightly less calorific than fat, which contains 9 kcal/g.
Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 kcal/g and fibre 2 kcal/g.
Men need around 2,500 calories a day, and women around 2,000.
“Cutting down on drinking can have a big effect on weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight,” said Kate Mendoza.
It can also reduce your risk of cancer, she said.
Alcohol has been linked with breast, bowel, mouth and liver cancer.
If you don’t want to abstain entirely, there are ways that can help you cut down, including opting for smaller glass sizes, diluting alcohol with soda water or a low-calorie soft drink, alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and keeping a few nights each week booze-free.
WCRF has produced an Alcohol Calorie Calculator for different drinks that shows approximately how much exercise you would need to do to burn off the alcohol calories you consume.
Government guidelines recommend men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day, and women should limit themselves to 2-3 units a day.
A standard 175 ml glass of wine contains about two units and a large 250 ml glass contains about three units.
If you have had a heavy drinking session, you should avoid alcohol for at least 48 hours, experts advise.