World Cancer Day, February 4, 2017

By Liz Meszaros, MDLinx
Published February 4, 2017

Key Takeaways

Today is World Cancer Day, and experts have joined forces to stress the importance of physical activity in the global fight against cancer. Under the banner ‘We can. I can,’ the day will encourage people to be more active - in every sense - in the fight against a disease.

Each year, World Cancer Day takes place on February 4, and unites the world in the battle against cancer. The goal of World Cancer Day is to save millions of lives that would be lost to preventable deaths each year by increasing awareness and education efforts, and calling governments and individuals throughout the world to action.

For 2017, the power of sport is being harnessed to encourage fans, organizations, and personalities to speak out and reach people through the “Support through Sport” initiative.

“This World Cancer Day we want to inspire individuals to play an active role in the fight against cancer, by being physically active. Around a third of all cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and leading a less sedentary lifestyle. A large number of people also find exercise to be of great benefit to their wellbeing either during or after treatment. The ‘We can. I can.’ campaign is in its second year and we hope to build on the success of last year and spread the message further than ever,” said Dr. Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

Not only can sports help in prevention of cancer, but more and more research shows that physical activity can significantly help cancer patients in managing life-altering side-effects caused by necessary treatments, including fatigue, depression, and heart damage, but physical activity can also reduce the risk of disease worsening or recurrence. For example, engaging in recommended levels of physical activity can reduce—by approximately 40%—a breast cancer patient’s risk of recurrence and of mortality.1

“Anyone can get involved in sport, so it’s a great fit for World Cancer Day,” said Sanchia Aranda, UICC President. “Regular exercise is one of the most simple and fun ways that people worldwide can reduce their cancer risk. The messages around sport also link back to our cancer messages about the importance of healthy eating, supporting one another to achieve common goals and working together,” she added.

“In Australia, Cancer Council Australia is the official charity partner for the Sydney 7s tournament, being held over the World Cancer Day weekend. The event is part of the international HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and brings people from around the world. As well as fundraising at the tournament, we will be using it as an opportunity to educate spectators about how they can cut their cancer risk,” Aranda concluded.

In addition to proactively maintaining their own health by being active, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco, and eating red and processed meat in moderation, individuals are also called to contribute to the success of World Cancer Day.

“Every post, share or tweet adds to the noise and raises the profile of cancer in people’s minds, in the world’s media and on the global health and development agenda,” concluded organizers.

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  1. Macmillan Cancer Support (2011) The importance of physical activity for people living with and beyond cancer: A concise evidence review, available at: [Accessed 12/01/2017], see page 8.
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