1 in 3 Common Cancers May Be Preventable
Report: Good Diet, Physical Activity, and Healthy Weight May Prevent 34% of 12 Common Cancers in the U.S.
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 26, 2009 -- About a third of common adult cancers may be preventable in
the U.S. -- and that doesn't even count cancers that could be prevented by not
That's according to a new report from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)
and its sister organization, the American Institute for Cancer Research
In the new report, the WCRF and AICR estimate that in the U.S., eating a
nutritious diet, being physically active, and keeping body fat under control
- 38% of breast cancers
- 45% of colorectal cancers
- 36% of lung cancers
- 39% of pancreatic cancers
- 47% of stomach cancers
- 69% of esophageal cancers
- 63% of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, or larynx
- 70% of endometrial cancers
- 24% of kidney cancers
- 21% of gallbladder cancers
- 15% of liver cancers
- 11% of prostate cancers
Diet, physical activity, and limited body
fat could prevent 34% of those 12 cancers overall in the U.S., and 24% of all
cancers, according to the report.
Those estimates are all about the big picture -- the effect on the overall
population -- not an individual's chance of developing cancer.
The WCRF/AICR report also includes tips for governments, industries, school,
media, and other institutions worldwide to promote healthy lifestyles. Among
- New developments should be designed to encourage walking and cycling.
- Government and school cafeterias should provide healthy foods and
- Food and drink industries should price healthy fare competitively with
other products and stop promoting sugary drinks and unhealthy foods to
- Workplaces should have policies and environments that are supportive of breastfeeding.
- Media should promote cancer prevention and flag misleading cancer
That guidance is in line with the American Cancer Society's recommendation
for community action, notes Colleen Doyle, the American Cancer Society's
director of nutrition and physical activity.
"Reversing the obesity epidemic will require bold action and multiple
strategies, including policy changes at national, state, and local levels that
make it easier for people to eat better and be more active," Doyle says in
an American Cancer Society statement.
The WCRF/AICR, which has previously published
cancer prevention tips for individuals, stresses that cancer prevention
means trimming the odds of developing cancer, not totally eliminating
Many factors affect cancer risk, and some of them -- like family history --
aren't within your control. A healthy lifestyle doesn't wipe out cancer risk --
but it also has no downside. And, because early detection is often a big help
in treating cancer when it does occur, check with your doctor about routine
cancer screening tests.