The European Code Against Cancer is an initiative of the European Commission to inform people about actions they can take for themselves or their families to reduce their risk of cancer. The current fourth edition consists of twelve recommendations that most people can follow without any special skills or advice. The more recommendations people follow, the lower their risk of cancer will be. It has been estimated that almost half of all deaths due to cancer in Europe could be avoided if everyone followed the recommendations.

The fourth edition of the Code is published on this website, together with Questions and Answers that provide additional information about each recommendation and related aspects of cancer prevention. These explain the cancer risk addressed by each of the recommendations, and give more details about how people can protect themselves and their families.

The first edition of the Code was published in 1987. The fourth edition has been prepared in 2012–2013 by cancer specialists, scientists, and other experts from across the European Union in a project coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, with financial support from the EU Health Programme. In formulating the recommendations, the experts took into account the latest scientific evidence available. All the experts who contributed to the fourth edition were requested to work independently and be guided only by their expert views, not by the position of any organization or institution. Experts were also requested to declare any real or perceived interests related to the subject matter.

The experts contributed over a two-year period to a multidisciplinary collaborative effort in which the relevant evidence was collected and reviewed in working groups. Scientific and technical support for the working groups in the identification and analysis of the relevant evidence was provided by a group of epidemiologists experienced in systematic review of the scientific literature. The rationale for the recommendations in the Code and the relevant evidence is explained in scientific articles written by the working groups.

The wording of the recommendations was agreed by the working groups in collaboration with experts in behavioural research and communication and the two principal investigators of the project, taking into account the fact that the target population is the general public. Overall independent scientific oversight, and final approval of the recommendations, was provided by a Scientific Committee consisting of senior researchers and distinguished leaders in cancer prevention in Europe. The Scientific Secretariat of the project at the International Agency for Research on Cancer was lead jointly by the two principal investigators.

The September issue of the European Journal of Cancer features an interview of European Code Against Cancer IARC project leaders Drs Lawrence von Karsa and Joachim Schüz. Watch video

Organising Committees