Report highlights how lifestyle change can help reduce cancer rates

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The Seanad Public Consultation Committee has today called on the Minister for Health to develop a national physical activity plan for all age groups, including the extension of bike/walking schemes and to ensure that this plan is central to urban and rural planning.

6 February 2013

Changes in lifestyle can prevent approximately one third of cancers and the Seanad Consultation Committee invited submissions and held a public hearing on the topic in 2012. A Committee report, published this afternoon, bases its recommendations around tackling smoking, obesity and alcohol misuse and calls for:

  • Smoking: A ban on cigarette vending machines, price reductions on nicotine replacement drugs and mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes.
  • Obesity: Introduction of nationwide weight management programmes, healthy eating guidelines and appropriate physical activity programmes in schools, a funded campaign to increase breast-feeding and early-years nationwide diet and nutrition programmes, targeted at parents.
  • Alcohol: Introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol, launch of a national information campaign linking alcohol consumption directly to many cancers and mandatory alcohol labelling warnings about cancer.

Committee Chairman Senator Denis O ’Donovan says:  “Ireland has some of the highest cancer rates in the world. Changes in lifestyle can prevent approximately one third of cancers and the Seanad Consultation Committee this morning launched a report on how government and society can respond to this challenge. The report calls for joined up government policy to help Irish people eat healthier, drink less alcohol and quit smoking.

 “Our Committee heard alarming projections of new cancer cases in Ireland increasing by up to by 72 per cent by 2030, with lifestyle factors a significant component in that increase. Consequently, the report is particularly focussed on educating young citizens on the value of a healthy diet, physical activity and weight management. We also call for a series of measures, such as a ban on cigarette vending machines and mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes, which have the potential to significantly reduce the numbers who start smoking every year. ”

 “We thank all contributors for their time in contributing this report. Our Committee is particularly grateful to Dr Kate Allen of the World Cancer Research Fund, whose enlightening presentation to our Committee has informed much of its recommendations. The report offers concise, practical and achievable recommendations centred around curbing smoking, obesity and alcohol abuse, which we hope will feed into public policy on the matter. ”

Access the full report.

View video clips of Senators Denis O’Donovan and Susan O’Keeffe introducing the report.

Stakeholders that took part in the consultation included:

  • The Nutrition and Health Foundation.
  • Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute.
  • The Alcohol Forum.
  • The Irish Cancer Society.
  • National Cancer Control Programme
  • Institute of Public Health in Ireland.
  • Alcohol Action Ireland.
  • Health Promotion Research Centre   NUIG.
  • Ash Ireland.
  • World Cancer Research Fund.
  • Safe Food.

The Committee was established in September 2011 to strengthen dialogue between Seanad Éireann and the public on a wide range of subjects in the area of public policy.

For further information please contact:
Paul Hand,
Communications Unit,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2
P: +3531 618 4484
M: +353 87 694 9926

Members of the Committee:
Senator Denis O ’Donovan, Chair, Fianna Fáil
Ivana Bacik, Labour
Paul Bradford,       Fine Gael
Paul Coghlan, Fine Gael
Maurice Cummins, Fine Gael
Mark Daly, Fianna Fáil
Lorraine Higgins, Labour
Rónán Mullen, Independent
Marie Louise O’Donnell, Independent
Susan O ’Keeffe, Labour
Mary White, Fianna Fáil

Link to full report