Primary Prevention: United for Action

July 2021

40% of cancers are preventable. For this reason, both the European Union and World Health Organization actively support countries in policy propositions that can assist in addressing modifiable cancer risks. But are there opportunities to move faster and go further? A new report by the European Cancer Organisation suggests so. "Primary Prevention: United for Action" summarises a series of recommendations from across the cancer and health community that can be instrumental in saving lives and enabling more people to live lives free from cancer.

Published as a synthesis outcome of a high level meeting of international experts in May 2021, ‘United for Action’ includes such recommendations as:

  • Resisting efforts to replace the priority of smoking cessation policies with tobacco harm reduction policies
  • Joining all forces to elevate tobacco control through taxation, regulation and advocacy
  • Renewing efforts to increase public recognition of the association between alcohol consumption and cancer development and death, and in particular of the lack of a safe level of alcohol consumption.
  • Guided by WHO ‘best buys’ and other international guidance and best practice, implementing policies to reduce alcohol consumption, including bans or restrictions on alcohol marketing and visual health warnings on alcohol product labels
  • Ensuring that future EU food labelling requirements provide front-of-pack nutritional information of interpretative nature, be of a mandatory nature, and with uniform reference values
  • Increasing attention to better treatment of obesity as a component of cancer prevention, respecting the clear link between obesity and cancer risk
  • Resolving insufficiencies in legislative measures on sunbeds in Europe as an evidenced and avoidable cause of skin cancer
  • Improving the regulatory framework to protect outdoor workers from the risk of skin cancer

Co-chaired by the European Cancer Organisation and the Association of European Cancer Leagues, the meeting and initiative welcomed contributions from more than 20 international oncology organisations, as well as the World Health Organization, World Heart Foundation, European Society of Cardiology and European Association of Preventive Cardiology.

Conducted under the guidance of the European Cancer Organisation’s Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network, the outcomes of the discussion will be foundational to further representations by the European Cancer Organisation, as it seeks to support the work of other organisations in this critical area of cancer policy.

Read the report here.