Linda Carney MD

3 minutes reading time (652 words)

Can Lifestyle Choices Help Prevent Cancer?

Cancer Prevention is Better than Cure

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an estimated 14.1 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed, and 8.2 million cancer deaths were recorded in 2012. And these numbers are expected to keep rising in the coming years. About 21.7 million new cancer diagnoses and 13.2 million cancer-related deaths are expected to occur globally by 2030. These figures are not encouraging. Cancer of any type is a dreaded diagnosis. So what can we do to reduce our chances of developing cancer? Can our lifestyle and dietary choices help us to prevent cancer?

The answer to these questions came in a study published in the Cancer Journal for Clinicians. In this study, a team of researchers from the American Cancer Society examined 2014 data on cancer incidence and deaths in the United States obtained from both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute. They discovered that unhealthy lifestyle and dietary choices were responsible for about 42% of all cancer cases (with the exception of non-melanoma skin cancer) and 45.1% of cancer deaths recorded in the United States in 2014. The findings of this study reveal that lifestyle and dietary choices are key factors contributing to the development and prevention of cancer.

Some of these unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits that elevate the risk of developing cancer include smoking, alcohol consumption, excessive body weight, physical inactivity, high exposure to second-hand smoke, cancer-associated microbes, and ultra-violet radiation, as well as adherence to a diet rich in red and processed meats and low in fruits, vegetables, dietary fiber, and calcium. Cigarette smoking accounted for the highest number of cancer cases and deaths in the United States in 2014. Over 290,000 cancer cases and more than 160,000 cancer deaths in the US were attributed to cigarette smoking in 2014.

Several other studies have shown that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly decrease the likelihood of developing different forms of cancer. The results of a study published in the Journal JAMA Oncology show that a significant reduction in the risk of most cancers is associated with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding of cigarette smoking, reduction in alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and maintenance of a healthy weight. According to Graham Colditz, an adjunct professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, "cancer is preventable. In fact, most cancer is preventable— with estimates as high as 80-90% for smoking-related cancers."

While genetic defects may be responsible for only about 5-10% of all cancer cases, the remaining 90-95% are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors.​ Lifestyle and dietary choices can have a major impact on the health of individuals. Lifestyle choices can either increase or reduce an individual's chances of getting cancer. Though maintaining a healthy lifestyle may seem like it requires a lot of sacrifice on the part of individuals, it is definitely worthwhile in order to make us less prone to cancer. Making healthy lifestyle and dietary choices, such as avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol, eating of a whole-food plant-based no-oil diet, staying physically active, and maintaining a healthy body weight, can help to reduce our cancer risk.

What kind of lifestyle will you choose?

Additional Information:

(1) Dairy Products Promote Prostate Cancer

(2) Using Diet to Prevent & Treat Breast Cancer

(3) Which Foods Suppress Cancer Cell Growth?

(4) Fatty Foods May Increase Pancreatic Cancer Risk

(5) Using Diet to Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

(6) Fighting Breast Cancer in the Kitchen

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