February 21, 2006 2:51 PM

PAUL ROWEN MP indulged in a touch of 'spin' as she helped promote a Cancer Research UK drive to highlight ways in which cancer can be prevented through changes to lifestyle.

The Hon. Member for Rochdale played the Wheel of Life at a special healthy living day at the Houses of Parliament this week (Wednesday January 25).

The event helped launch the second year of Cancer Research UK's Reduce the Risk campaign to MPs. Reduce the Risk aims to raise awareness of the avoidable risks of cancer and the importance of early detection.

The Wheel of Life is a fun way to find out about the risks and benefits of different behaviours such as eating healthily, smoking or sunbathing. Players are awarded points based on where the wheel stops; for example, you can lose 500 points for being a heavy smoker but win back 200 for swapping your pie for a healthy alternative!

Speaking at the event, supported by the on-site gym and refreshment department of the Houses of Parliament, Paul Rowen said: "Half of all cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes so it is in our own interests that we each do all we can to reduce our risk. Stopping smoking is the most important thing people can do to reduce their cancer risk and that's one of the reasons I will be voting for an end to smoking in all workplaces and public places in February.

"Regular exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of lung cancer by 25 per cent and contributes to a wide range of serious diseases. I will do all I can to protect my constituents from this risk."

One of the biggest known preventable causes of cancer in non-smokers is obesity and Cancer Research UK has joined forces with the charity Weight Concern to develop Ten Top Tips - a set of weight management guidelines that can be incorporated into everyday routines without radical lifestyle change.

The scientifically-based programme involves adopting 10 simple steps and using a weekly checklist to monitor progress and help reinforce the new habits.

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, said:

"Our Reduce the Risk campaign highlights five important ways you can lower your cancer risk, including stopping smoking, staying in shape, eating and drinking healthily, being SunSmart and reporting anything unusual to your doctor.

"Obesity is a known risk factor for cancer, yet far too many of those at greatest risk are unaware of this link and unaware of many of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

"The Reduce the Risk campaign offers people health messages and practical advice they can use to swap unhealthy habits for healthy ones. The Ten Top Tips programme is a great way to lose weight and keep it off. Many of us make resolutions to lose weight and get fit in January; Ten Top Tips can help us turn them into reality."

The tips themselves are as follows:

1) Keep to your meal routine

Try to eat at roughly the same times each day, whether this is two or five times a day.

2) Go reduced fat

Choose reduced fat versions of foods such as dairy products, spreads and salad dressings where you can. Use them sparingly as some can still be high in fat.

3) Walk off the weight

Walk 10,000 steps (equivalent to 60-90 minutes moderate activity) each day. You can use a pedometer to help count the steps. You can break-up your walking throughout the day.

4) Pack a healthy snack

If you snack, choose a healthy option such as fresh fruit or low calorie yogurts instead of chocolate or crisps.

5) Look at the labels

Be careful about food claims. Check the fat and sugar content on food labels when shopping and preparing food.

6) Caution with your portions

Don't heap food on your plate (except vegetables). Think twice before having second helpings.

7) Up on your feet

Break up your sitting time. Stand up for ten minutes out of every hour.

8) Think about your drinks

Choose water or sugar-free squashes. Unsweetened fruit juice is high in natural sugar so limit it to 1 glass per day (200ml/ 1/3 pint). Alcohol is high in calories. Try to limit the amount you drink.

9) Focus on your food

Slow down. Don't eat on the go or while watching TV. Eat at a table if possible.

10) Don't forget your 5 a day

Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (400g in total).

For more information on Cancer Research UK's Reduce the Risk campaign, visit