Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Common Cancers
Graham Colditz, PD, DrPH, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, recently reported at the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) World Cancer Congress 2012, that most cancers can be prevented by simply implementing what people already know about cancer prevention. These include a number of interventions involving lifestyle behaviors, and among high-income countries, it may entail higher-cost interventions. If widely applied, these interventions can prevent a large percentage of cancers within the next two decades.
Dr. Colditz cites smoking cessation as one of the most significant lifestyle changes that can impact the reduction of cancer cases. He says that a third of cancer cases in high-income countries like the US is caused by smoking, and if smoking can be significantly reduced, he predicts a 75% reduction in smoking-related cancers in the next 10 to 20 years.
Next, Colditz reports that being overweight or obese is associated with about 20% of cancer today. He suggests that if people could maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI of 21 to 23 kg/m²), the incidence of cancer could drop by about half within 20 years.
Poor diet and lack of exercise are each associated with about 5% of all cancers, and his report estimates that improvement in these lifestyle factors can reduce cancer incidence by 50% and 85%, respectively in 5 to 20 years.
Another way by which cancer incidence can be reduced include eradicating viruses associated with cancers, such as human papillomavirus and hepatitis B and C viruses, through immunization. Undergoing periodical screening tests for common cancers like colorectal cancer can reduce their incidence, as well as prevent deaths due to these. Regular aspirin intake is also associated with a 40% drop in mortality from colon cancer.
Harrison, P. Lifestyle Changes Could Prevent 50% of Common Cancers. Medscape.
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