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Brussels, May 25 2011

Healthy Lifestyles Conference

President of the European Council, Herman VAN ROMPUY is attending the first conference organised by the Association of European Cancer Leagues, the pan-European NGO responsible for reviving the European Week Against Cancer (EWAC) as part of its actions coordinating prevention in the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer.  EWAC will run from 25 to 31 May each year. This conference today focusing on lifestyle messages 1-6 of the European Code Against Cancer aims to seek solutions to cancer prevention through promoting healthy lifestyles and identifying national and/or European policies to increase accessibility to healthy choices.  (See speech of President Van Rompuy here.)


The cancer leagues focus on Health Promotion and Cancer Prevention as the most cost-effective response to cancer control. As the Commission Communication 2009 291/4 states ‘around one third of all cancers could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, low fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption.’”Professor T Kutluk, ECL President.

"We are personally responsible for our health and, we can influence our health by our choices and habits. In my opinion, lifestyles are the main health determinant. We can improve our own health if we decide to do so. Healthy lifestyles are the best investment for a good quality of our life." MEP Alojz Peterle, MEPS Against Cancer President

The aim of EWAC is to promote the European Code Against Cancer which provides an 11 point guide to cancer prevention focusing on the areas of healthy lifestyles and screening.  As leaders of the work package on health promotion and cancer prevention in the European Partnership Action Against Cancer, ECL believes that prevention offers the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for reducing the burden of cancer. Given that one third of all cancers are preventable, the European Week Against Cancer aims to put in place healthy lifestyle interventions that will improve the health of European populations. European Commissioner for Health & Consumer Policy, Mr John Dalli, said: "My message at the occasion of this year's European Week Against Cancer is simple : people can take steps to improve their health and avoid certain cancers, by making healthier choices. While public authorities cannot force people to change their behaviour, I believe that we have a duty to arm our citizens with the information they need to take control of their health".


The conference, organised by the Association of European Cancer Leagues brings together policy makers, industry representatives, politicians and civil society to discuss what kinds of national and European level interventions can be made in order to help Europeans lead healthier lifestyles.  Recommendations refer to  nutrition and obesity, moderate alcohol intake, tobacco control and sun safety.  MEP Christel Schaldemose called for greater EU responsibility, especially in the area of food labelling:  ‘We need to ask ourselves, whether we really want to lower the number of citizens who get cancer or suffer from cancer? If the answer is yes - and I hope it will be - then prevention and healthier lifestyles are the best ways to go. Here and now it will cost money and it will restrict the playing field of some companies, but that is a small price to pay for saving many lives in the long run.”


The event was rounded off with calls for action from policy makers and commerce to promote healthy foods, and increase awareness about the dangers of immoderate alcohol consumption and sun exposure and tobacco control measures: “Tobacco is the main cause of cancer and kills half of its users, but still remains very attractive for youngsters. ECL urges the European Union to review the Tobacco Products Directive and adopt pictorial health warnings covering 80% of the front and the back of the package of all tobacco products in combination with plain packaging," says Luk Joossens, Advocacy Officer of the Association of European Cancer leagues.

To conclude, Mr Dalli said "I am committed to supporting Member States and stakeholders in their joint partnership efforts to  prevent and control cancer in every way I can", and MEP Schaldemose called for more action: ‘the EU should of course also take responsibility in this field - especially when it comes to awareness campaigns, labeling and production of foods and a joint European cancer strategy.’

WATCH THIS SPACE: The European Week Against Cancer continues until the 31st May with a Scientific Seminar on the 26th May at the WHO Office at the EU, and closes with a cocktail event to mark World no Tobacco day, May 31st. For more information about cancer prevention or the European Week Against Cancer 2012 please visit, and place a request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to put you on their information recipient database.

The Association of European Cancer Leagues

ECL is a pan-European umbrella organisation of national and regional cancer leagues providing a unique and important platform for cancer societies.  From Iceland to Turkey, ECL is represented by leagues in the extended Europe.  ECL aims to “make a Difference in Cancer Prevention and Control!” at European and member state levels. As the MAC (MEPs Against Cancer) secretariat, ECL is honoured to be supporting the work of the Members of the European Parliament in their fight against cancer.

Contact regarding this Press Release:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  at ECL.



Some links to Press Releases and other external coverages on ECL's launch of the European Week Against Cancer:

EUROPA Press Release (European Commission) "European Week Against Cancer: A joint commitment to prevent cancer"

MEP Childers marks European week against cancer with series of events

European Institute of Women's Health

EUROPA DONNA to participate in European Week against Cancer

European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)

Greater Manchester Public Health News 

Irish NGOs Take Part in EWAC

Active Europe




Other EWAC Conferences in Brussels organised by ECL Collaborating Partners of WP5:

Setting the Agenda in Women’s Health - Stop Cancer before it Starts:  12:30 to 14:00, 24 May 2011, European Parliament, Brussels, organised by the European Institute of Women's Health and hosted by MEP Nessa Childers and MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.

World No Tobacco Day 2011: Supporting the FCTC.  18:00 to 20:00, 31 May 2011, European Parliament, organised by the Smokefree Partnership and hosted by MEP Glenis Willmott.

Pre-Event:  Flashmobbing for the European Week Against Cancer, Saturday 21 May 2011, led by Vanessa Poll and her dance students.  See photos here!



The aim of the European Week Against Cancer (EWAC) is to communicate cancer prevention messages, based on the European Code Against Cancer:

  • Do not smoke; if you smoke, stop doing so. If you fail to stop, do not smoke in the presence of non-smokers
  • Avoid Obesity
  • Undertake some brisk, physical activity every day
  • Increase your daily intake and variety of vegetables and fruits: eat at least five servings daily. Limit your intake of foods containing fats from animal sources
  • If you drink alcohol, whether beer, wine or spirits, moderate your consumption to two drinks per day if you are a man and one drink per day if you are a woman
  • Care must be taken to avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • Apply strictly regulations aimed at preventing any exposure to known cancercausing substances.
  • Women should participate in cervical screening.
  • Women should participate in breast screening.
  • Men and women should participate in colorectal screening.
  • Participate in vaccination programmes against viruses linked to cancer.

EWAC Conferences 2012-2013:


May 2012: Rome, 31 May to 1 June, at the Italian Ministry of Health, hosted by the Italian Cancer League (LILT) and ECL.

May 2013: Dublin, hosted by the Irish Cancer Society during Ireland's EU Presidency


EWAC History

The European Week Against Cancer (EWAC) took place until 2005.

The European Week Against Cancer was an annual health promotion campaign, organised since 1989. Originally the week was conducted under the Europe Against Cancer Programme of the European Commission. It was managed and partly funded by the Commission services in collaboration with cancer fighting organisations from the EU countries and EFTA countries Norway and Iceland.

From 1999 to 2005, the week was coordinated by the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL).

The European Week Against Cancer had reached an established position on the agenda of the Cancer Leagues and had become familiar to the general public and authorities. It was organised at the same time every year, on the second week of October. The week usually generates interest from the national and local media, and is a important opportunity to raise awareness on specific cancer-related issues, as well as develop the visibility of our Members.

Topics of the European Week Against Cancer 1989 - 2005

1989 The European code against cancer
1990 Tobacco and alcohol
1991 Early detection of cancer and systematic counselling
1992 Cancer prevention at work
1993 Passive smoking
1994 Nutrition and cancer
1995 The European code against cancer
1996 Cancer and sun
1997 Women´s cancers
1998 Cancer in men
1999 Smoking cessation in the youth
2000 Nutrition and Cancer
2001 Women and tobacco
2002 Patients' rights
2003 European code against cancer
2004 Passive smoking
2005 Towards a Smoke-free Europe

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