Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world, claiming 8.2 million lives every year. The World Health Organization warns that the number of new cancer cases globally is expected to escalate by an alarming 70 percent over the next two decades. The most common types of cancer are lung, liver, stomach, colorectal, breast and esophageal.
To further international efforts to prevent and cure cancer, World Cancer Day is recognized annually on 4 February. The initiative also works to increase cancer survival rates and improve the quality of life for those coping with cancer. The 2016–2018 “We can, I can” theme encourages the collective power of professional and amateur sports to unite people in inspiring and taking action against cancer.
Athletes, coaches, officials and fans are invited to rally their networks of sports clubs, teams and federations to support the cancer community’s and athletics’ common interests of staying physically active and furthering health awareness in homes, workplaces and schools.
About one-third of cancer deaths worldwide are attributed to these five leading risk factors:
- Tobacco use
- Excessive body weight
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical exercise
- Alcohol use
Smoking and using tobacco products account for 22 percent of all cancer deaths. The World Cancer Research Fund International estimates of the 13 most common cancers, 32 percent of cases in the United Kingdom are preventable through improved diet, exercise and body weight. The preventable cancer estimate for the United States is 31 percent, for Brazil – 25 percent and for China – 24 percent.
The 2017 World Cancer Day platform includes a focus on the following:
We Can Create Healthy Schools — Every school can foster the habits of choosing healthy foods and drinks and getting exercise through physical education, recreation and sport.
We Can Create Healthy Workplaces — Employers can implement health policies and wellness programs that motivate workers to adopt healthier lifestyles. Workplaces are also encouraged to create 100-percent smoke-free environments and prevent exposure to cancer-causing agents. Businesses are also called upon to provide a workplace that helps employees recovering from cancer to transition successfully back to their jobs (e.g., adjusting hours and responsibilities as needed).
We Can Challenge Perceptions — Cancer is an unacceptable topic in many cultures and communities. World Cancer Day aims to disseminate accurate information about cancer and reduce social stigmas surrounding cancer diagnoses.
As part of the 2017 campaign’s appeal to sports enthusiasts, individual athletes and teams are directed to write #WeCanICan on a ball, helmet, racket, Frisbee, skis, snowboard, paddle and other sports equipment and take photographs with #WeCanICan items and share the photographs online. To learn more about World Cancer Day and specific ways to promote the fight against cancer, visit worldcancerday.org.
What about World Cancer Day do you find most beneficial?