EDMONTON -- A new study says almost half of cancer cases in Alberta are linked to behaviours that people can change such as smoking, eating too much junk food and not getting enough exercise.

The study released by Alberta Health Services suggests about 6,700 cancer cases could be avoided each year if people took better care of themselves.

Other bad habits that can be a factor in the disease include being overweight and drinking too much alcohol.

The study acknowledges that no diet or lifestyle change can promise absolute protection from cancer, but people can reduce their risk.

The research says some of the most common cancers such as breast, lung and colorectal could be reduced by at least half.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says it makes sense for people to take steps to live healthier lives.

"It is important to look at some of the factors that are within our control in helping protect our health," she said Thursday in a release.

"Prevention is one of the best tools we have when it comes to reducing the risk of cancer."

The study shows that tobacco continues to be the leading cause of cancer in Alberta with 2,485 cases per year.