There’s abundant advice out there on what you should or shouldn’t eat, drink, swallow, or stand next to, to avoid cancer. But it’s often lacking in evidence and the jumble of messages can be confusing.
The body map published today in the Conversation brings together the evidence on proven cancer causes. Using credible, scientific sources it answers questions about whether alcohol, red meat or sun exposure increase your cancer risk. Cancer occurs when mutations in a cell’s DNA cause it to replicate without control, invading other tissues. Some cancer-causing mutations can be inherited; others induced, by infection with bacteria or viruses; or by environmental factors such as smoking, sun exposure and eating red meat.
This map’s focus is on induced factors. They are considered “modifiable” because avoiding them lessens your chance of cancer.
When reading the map, keep in mind that every body and circumstance is unique; one risk factor cannot be considered in isolation when applied to a real life context.
Also remember the percentages portrayed are “relative risks” which are different to “absolute risks”. The difference is explained in this accompanying piece, which will help you understand what relative risk really means for your chances of getting cancer.