A newly published study shows that nearly half of cancer diagnoses in the U.S. are linked to preventable causes. In 2014, 42 percent of all diagnosis and 45 percent of all deaths were attributed to preventive risk factors. Smoking, excess body weight and alcohol consumption were the most common risk factors.
The study, put out by the American Cancer Society, was recently published in the journal Cancer. According to Newsweek, all data used for the study was gathered from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute’s official statistics. Researchers evaluated over 1.5 million cases of cancer and almost 600,000 cancer deaths for the study.
According to the research, lung and colorectal cancer had the highest number of cases and deaths related to preventable risk factors. Cigarette smoking was responsible for the highest proportion of cancer cases, connected to 19 percent of cases and 28.8 percent of deaths. Being overweight and obesity were linked to 7.8 percent of cases and 6.5 percent of deaths for second place. Alcohol consumption came in third, with 5.6 percent of cases and four percent of deaths.
The researchers stressed that their numbers are conservative. Because these are all preventable risk factors and lifestyle choices, it’s possible in theory to reduce the risk of cancer through simple lifestyle changes. A statement from the ACS said, “Increasing access to preventive health care and awareness about preventive measures should be part of any comprehensive strategy for broad and equitable implementation of known interventions to accelerate progress against cancer.”
The ACS offers a number of recommendations to help reduce your risk of getting cancer. These recommendations include avoiding tobacco consumption, getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet, and taking precautions when exposed to sunlight. The organization also advocates for regular cancer screenings, as these could help with an early diagnosis of the disease, if present.
Cancer death rates have gone down in the U.S. by about 25 percent in recent decades, according to a report from ABC News. Roughly 1.6 million new cases of the disease are expected to be diagnosed this year, with about 600,000 people expected to die from cancer.