This article was last updated January 25, 2018.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2017, with 600,000 resulting in death.
While many factors that contribute to the development of cancer are completely out of our hands, sometimes our chances of getting certain cancers increase with the voluntary actions we make now or have made in the past. In a recent study, researchers set out to understand the link between cancer and certain lifestyle choices and just published their findings in the study, “Proportion and number of cancer cases and deaths attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors in the United States.”
How much of an impact do these choices have on cancer? Turns out, quite a bit. Incredibly, the research team discovered that 4 in 10 cancers and cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to these modifiable lifestyle choices, or 42% of cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths examined in this large study of 659,640 cancer cases and 265,150 cancer deaths.
The study found that certain choices affect the odds of getting certain cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, “More than 75% of the melanoma, anal, lung, larynx, and oral cavity cancer cases and deaths could be attributed to modifiable risk factors. And the proportion of cancer cases connected to modifiable risk factors was greater than 50% for 15 of the 26 cancer types analyzed.” Here’s a breakdown of the lifestyle choice and its associated increased risk for certain cancers:
So what can we do to reduce our risk? Well, simple lifestyle changes are the key. According to this study, these five can cut your risk by 42%. Here are 5 ways you can cut your risk right now:
- Stop Smoking. SmokeFree has tools and support available at no cost to help you quit for good.
- Get Regular Exercise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
- Eat More Fruits and Veggies and Less Meat. A 2017 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology shows 10 servings daily of fruits and vegetables could potentially prevent an estimated 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide.
- Get the HPV Vaccination. According to the National Cancer Institute, eligible males and females who get vaccinated reduce the risk of certain cancers by up to 97%
- Use Sunblock. The American Cancer Society reports you can virtually eliminate the risk of certain skin cancers by using sunscreen and following a few other tips here.
Many times, a cancer diagnosis comes out of the blue and results from factors out of our control. However, the results of this study show us that we hold some of the power when it comes to cancer. And it just makes sense to make healthy lifestyle choices to live our best life. In some cases, the smart lifestyle choices we make now can prevent a cancer diagnosis down the road.
As with anything health related, education and awareness are essential keys to making better, wiser choices throughout life in the pursuit of well being and longevity. This link on the American Cancer Society website has some wonderful advice on healthy living. Also, you doctor is also a great source of information and advice. It’s a new year and the perfect time to make a commitment to healthier living.