Health Consciousness Divide

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Why prevention is better than cure

Living a healthy lifestyle over a prolonged period significantly reduces the risk of developing various diseases as we age. This concept is rooted in the idea that our daily habits and behaviours profoundly impact our long-term health outcomes.

The odds of developing conditions like cancer, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease or experiencing premature death decrease significantly when one abstains from smoking, adheres to a nutritious diet, exercises consistently, and maintains balanced blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as a normal weight.

Leading a healthy lifestyle

But worryingly, it is estimated that 2.5 million more people in England alone will have a serious illness by 2040[1]. This is supported by separate research that has also revealed that there’s still work to raise awareness of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

A startling 59% of respondents confessed to living life on their terms, clinging to the hope that they would remain untouched by cancer. More concerning still, one in five (20%) admitted to making no efforts towards reducing their risk of cancer or other grave illnesses[2].

Strides towards better health

y contrast, a subset of the population is making strides towards better health. Four out of ten (42%) people claimed to lead wholesome lifestyles, incorporating at least one health-enhancing behaviour in their daily routine[3]. These ranged from maintaining a balanced diet (29%), engaging in regular physical activity (27%) and monitoring their weight (27%), to using sun protection (30%) and cutting down on sugar consumption (22%).

Furthermore, one in five (22%) individuals reported taking measures to ensure their mental wellbeing, while a tenth of the respondents had renounced alcohol. However, despite these positive steps, a significant 67% felt they could do more to improve their health.

Personal risk factors

It is estimated that nearly four in ten annual cancer cases in the UK could be prevented[4]. Consequently, it is crucial that people understand their personal risk factors – such as smoking, diet, obesity, alcohol consumption, physical activity and age – and are equipped with the necessary knowledge and support to manage them effectively.

While many already adopt healthy habits like balanced eating, exercising, weight management and sun protection, the research underscores that a large segment of the population believes they could do more for their health.

Seeking medical advice

The study further revealed that nearly a third (32%) of people had sought medical advice for symptoms they feared might be cancer-related. Almost two in five (39%) of these consultations occurred within the past year.

Breast cancer was the primary concern leading to GP visits among women (44%), followed by skin (21%) and cervical cancer (10%). For men, testicular cancer was the most common worry (22%), followed by skin cancer (21%) and prostate cancer (16%).

Source data:
[2] The research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 2002 18+ national rep general consumers. The data was collected between 20.10.2023 – 24.10.2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.
[3] Strongly agree’ and ‘Somewhat agree’ responses combined.
[4] The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015 | British Journal of Cancer (


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