Preventing cancer

1 in 3 cancers can be prevented through healthy living.

Learn more about how forming healthier habits today can reduce your risk of experiencing cancer in the future. 

Preventing cancer

The way you live can raise or lower your risk of some cancers.

In fact, one third of all cancers occurring in Australia are caused by behaviours that can be changed.[1] That is good news: it means you can do things to protect yourself from cancer.

The best way to prevent cancer is through healthy living.

 No matter your age, making healthier lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of developing some of the most common types of cancer, including lung cancer, bowel cancer, skin cancer (such as melanoma) and breast cancer.

What you eat and drink, if you smoke, how much you weigh, if you protect your skin and how physically active you are can all make a difference to your risk of experiencing cancer.

While cancer can impact anyone, you can reduce your own risk. With the right information and support, we can all make healthy changes to how we live.

Quitting smoking, stopping drinking or limiting alcohol, protecting our skin, eating well and getting regular exercise are healthy habits that make a real difference to reducing your cancer risk.


37,000 cancers are preventable each year


What are the leading causes of cancer in Australia?

13.4%25 attributed to smoking tobacco
6.2%25 attributed to too much UV exposure
6.1%25 attributed to unhealthy eating
Attributed to getting infections
Attributed to drinking alcohol
Attributed to not being active enough

How we know cancer can be prevented

Our recommendations for preventing cancer are based on evidence from Australia and around the world. We look at different types of research studies, determine their quality and translate the evidence into practical cancer prevention advice.

We fund research in NSW about cancer risk factors, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. We also fund research that seeks to understand how people in NSW may understand cancer, including cancer risk factors.  

It is based on this evidence that we know the healthy living decisions you make today can help prevent your risk of cancer in the future.


1. Whiteman DC, Webb PM, Green AC, Neale RE, Fritschi L, Bain CJ, et al. Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to modifiable factors: summary and conclusions. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2015;39(5): 477–84