How Corporate Health Programs Can Reduce the Risk of Cancer January 24th, 2011, by Ken Buckley

With the World Health Organisation’s campaign World Cancer Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect on how our corporate health programs not only improve productivity and overall wellness but also play an important role in the reduction of many life threatening cancers.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of chronic illness and premature death around the world, however more than one-third of these cancers can be prevented through sensible healthy lifestyle change.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) is calling out to a range of institutions and organisations to promote awareness of cancer prevention and to drive healthy lifestyle change.

Consider some of the corporate health program initiatives below to reduce the risk of cancer within your organisation and cultivate a healthy workplace culture overall.

Make Your Workplace a Smoke-Free Environment
Sadly, more than 15,000 Australians develop smoking-related cancers every year. Of the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 of them have been scientifically proven to cause cancer, and they are not only hazardous for the smoker but for the other people sharing the smoking environment too. By instilling a smoke-free workplace policy and supporting employees to give up smoking, you are protecting them and their co-workers from a range of cancers and other debilitating effects.

Promote Sun Safe Strategies
At least 80% of Australians diagnosed with cancer each year are diagnosed with skin cancer. While a small amount of UV rays are good for you, too much sun exposure has been shown to cause skin cancer as well as serious eye damage. Educate your staff on how to protect their skin and eyes, and develop a workplace sun safe policy where necessary. Remember to slip on a shirt, slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen, slap on a broad brimmed hat and slide on some sunnies.

Encourage Employees to Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy, well-balanced, fibre rich diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein has been shown to reduce the risk of many cancers including bowel cancer which is a growing concern in Australia. Run a healthy eating campaign as part of your workplace health program to educate employees on the basics of healthy eating and evaluate the food and drink on offer at your worksite. Water coolers, a daily or weekly fruit box and healthy options in the cafeteria are a great place to start.

Support Regular Physical Activity
Studies have shown that a moderate amount of physical exercise reduces your risk of several cancers including bowel cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. In addition to this, regular exercise supports the maintenance of a healthy body weight which also significantly reduces the risk of numerous cancers. Support your employees in getting regular physical exercise by running a physical activity campaign, providing amenities such as bicycle storage and lockers or a corporate gym, and promote incidental exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the lift each day.

Remember that a comprehensive approach with a range of initiatives that promote and reinforce healthy habits is the best way to make long term, meaningful change to the health of your workplace. So on February 4th take a moment to consider the role your organisation is taking in disease prevention and what steps are necessary to improve risk reduction and overall wellness for a healthier, happier and more productive workforce in the future.

For more information on Corporate Health Program, contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post945” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives.

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