April 22, 2008 -- Some important U.S. cancer-prevention trends -- such as
less smoking and more mammograms -- have stalled, the American Cancer Society
Cancer deaths are down because of huge gains made over more than a decade of
cancer-prevention efforts. Far fewer Americans smoke, far more get regular
cancer screening, and lots more of us use sunscreen when we're outside. The
result: Fewer U.S. cancer deaths.
We may have started taking these annual gains for granted, suggests Vilma
Cokkinides, PhD, the American Cancer Society's strategic director for risk
factor surveillance. Cokkinides is co-author of the American Cancer
Society report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts and Figures
"These trends have been very favorable in the past, saving a lot of
lives," Cokkinides tells WebMD. "It is concerning we are stalling. We
want to see further improvements so we can save more lives."
Cokkinides is co-author of the latest American Cancer Society report on
cancer prevention. Here's what she finds scary:
Smoking rates for adults and teens dropped from 1997 to 2003. But they
haven't gone down since then -- and 21% of adults and 23% of teens still
For every dollar states spend on tobacco-control programs, the tobacco
industry spends $24.
After a decade of increase, mammography rates are slightly declining.
Two-thirds of women who lack health insurance have not had a mammogram
within the past two years.
Colorectal cancer screening rates are up, but fewer than half of Americans
over age 50 get screened as they should.
Obesity -- directly linked to many kinds of cancer -- leveled off in adults
at 34% of men and 36.4% of women. But obesity rates are soaring among teens,
rising from 5% to 17% in just 20 years.
Just over a third of U.S. kids get at least an hour of physical activity at
least five days a week.
Only one-fifth of U.S. kids eat their fruits and vegetables as they
More than two-thirds of kids get sunburned every summer -- a risk for skin
cancer later in life.
Individuals can make healthy choices. But Cokkinides says nationwide
improvements in cancer risk will take nationwide efforts.