Stop smoking, exercise more, eat better - New Year’s Resolutions that could prevent 15,000 cancer cases per year!

06 January 2014

Montreal -

At the beginning of the year, thousands of Quebecers are going to make one or more resolutions such as giving up smoking, exercising more, eating better, or maintaining a healthy weight. This year, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) wants to support the public in its New Year’s resolutions because it has been proven that healthy lifestyle habits can reduce the cancer risk to which we are all exposed[1].

The majority of Quebecers are concerned by cancer and want to know more about risk factors to prevent this disease at all costs. If, in a recent CCS[2] survey, 67% of respondents clearly identified tobacco as a risk factor, many still have not made the connection between certain lifestyle habits and the risk of cancer. Surprisingly, only 7% of Quebecers surveyed believe that physical inactivity and being overweight are related to the disease; the correlation between an unhealthy diet and cancer is known only to 27% of the population.

In this period conducive to good resolutions, the CCS would like to highlight the relationship between physical activity, being overweight, and cancer to motivate Quebecers to become more active. It would also like to encourage them to eat better because hardly one in four Quebecers surveyed eat enough fruits and vegetables per day.

As for Quebecers who intend to quit smoking in 2014, the CCS would like to remind them that it offers various smoking cessation services for all types of smokers. “Quitting is by far the best resolution to make because tobacco is the leading cause of cancer,” says Jacinthe Hovington, Director of Prevention and Health Promotion, CCS – Quebec Division. “Tobacco addiction is difficult to overcome. In the long run, only 5% of smokers succeed in quitting for good without any help while the success rate is at least twice as high among smokers who turn to a support service.”


  • There are more than 1.6 million smokers in Quebec (nearly 24% of the population aged 12 years and above), of which 32% are unfortunately youths (aged 20 to 34). It is estimated that a third of all smokers plan to quit in the next 6 months, which is good news.
  • To help smokers quit, the CCS offers two personalized services:

-      The ligne j’Arrête smokers’ helpline 1 866 527-7383, which has been used by more than 100,000 people since 2002, either to quit smoking, prepare for it, help a loved one, or obtain information. Smokers are lent an empathetic ear and given advice to suit their situation and needs. The service is confidential, free of charge, and available from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information: iquitnow.qc.ca.

-      SMAT (Short text Messages Against Tobacco) uses cell phones to reach youths between the ages of 18 and 35. For 24 weeks, smokers who have signed up for the service receive a minimum of 70 text messages consisting mostly of tips, but also information and encouragement to help them stay quit. Last year, nearly 1,000 Quebecers used SMAT services and 25% of them were still non-smokers after three months, a percentage considered exceptional where smoking cessation is concerned, especially among youths. Free registration: SMAT.ca.

Physical activity and cancer

  • According to the CCS survey, nearly 70% of Quebecers do not get the minimum requirement of 150 minutes of physical exercise per week.
  • 52%, however, reported that they would be prepared to do more if they knew that it would contribute to reducing their risk of getting cancer.
  • It has been proven that people who exercise regularly at moderate or vigorous intensity reduce their risk of getting cancer by 40 to 50%, compared with sedentary people. In addition, these effects are more marked for common cancers such as colorectal or breast cancer.
  • The CCS urges all Quebecers to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. In this regard, it offers the Trottibus Walking School Bus to primary schools to enable children and accompanying volunteers to walk to school in the morning. A simple and effective way to be more active every day and instil healthy lifestyle habits at a young age.

Being overweight and cancer

  • Nearly two out of three adults aged between 18 and 79 and nearly a third of children and youths aged between 5 and 18 are overweight or obese.
  • Overweight and obese people have a higher risk of breast, colorectal, oesophageal, gall bladder, renal, uterine, pancreatic, and liver cancer.
  • It has been proven that physical activity is a very effective way to lose excess body weight.

Diet and cancer

  • A healthy diet consisting of lots of vegetables, fruits, and fibres and low in salt and fat helps maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal, stomach, and oesophageal cancer.
On the other hand, a diet rich in red or processed meats and sausages and cold cuts increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

[1]  In Quebec, 48,500 cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2013. Research shows that 30% to 35% of cancer cases can be prevented through physical activity, healthy eating, and the maintenance of a healthy weight (around 15,000 cases).

[2] CCS study on cancer prevention (Leger – Research Intelligence Group, August 2013)

Every day, the Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research, and support people touched by the disease. For 75 years, our goal has remained unchanged: do more so that fewer of us have to face cancer and more survive. Let’s save more lives: visit cancer.ca or call our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444