Almost half of all cancer deaths linked to preventable risk factors

Almost half of all cancer deaths linked to preventable risk factors

"Actions like quitting smoking, eating well, being physically active and practicing sun safety, along with appropriate cancer screen tests, can go a long way to reducing your risk of getting cancer".

A new study from the American Cancer Society revealed that unhealthy lifestyles account for 42 percent of cancer cases and almost 50% of cancer deaths in the United States, which means that almost a half of these cases could have been prevented.

"This study provided contemporary information about the proportion and number of cancers attributable to these risk factors", he said.

But the new report does build on decades of research on risk factors for specific cancers, says Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. Maintaining accurate estimates of the contributions of potentially modifiable cancer risk factors can inform decisions about establishing priorities for cancer prevention and control.

Better education about cancer prevention and access to preventive health care should be key parts of the battle against cancer in America, the study concluded.

Also, aside from secondhand cigarette smoke, the researchers did not to include outdoor or indoor air pollution because the data on the cancer risk from pollution is not detailed enough to understand the national impact, said the study's lead author, Dr. Farhad Islami.

To perform a contemporary analysis of modifiable factors' contribution to cancer burden, the authors used published risk factor data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research.

What researchers found was that 42 per cent of all cancers and 45 per cent of all cancer deaths were down to these 17 "modifiable" risk factors: smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, excess body weight, alcohol intake, eating red meat, eating processed meats, low fruit and vegetable intake, low dietary fibre intake, low calcium consumption, lack of physical activity and exposure to UV radiation. Excess body weight was associated with more than twice as many potentially preventable cancers in women as in men, whether represented by PAF (10.9% versus 4.8%) or actual case volume (85,680 versus 37,670). But experts estimate that in 2017, 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed, and 600,000 people will die of their cancer -- which is why experts in the field agree that more needs to be known about how to prevent these cancers before they strike.

- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds was associated with 96 percent of skin cancers in men and 94 percent in women.

- Smoking accounted for 82 percent of lung cancers. These four factors accounted for 13.9% and 22.4% of all cancer cases in men and women, respectively.

Lung cancer had the highest number of cancers (184,970 cases) and deaths (132,960 deaths) attributable to evaluated risk factors, followed by colorectal cancer (76,910 cases and 28,290 deaths). Among women, the leaders in terms of number of cases of preventable cancers were breast (68,390), uterine (37,640), and colorectal (33,980). Excess body weight accounted for 6.5% of all cancer deaths.

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