Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

U.S. Has 7th Highest Cancer Rate in the World

Experts Say Lifestyle Changes Needed to Reduce Nation's Cancer Rates
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan 24, 2011 -- About 300 of every 100,000 Americans develop cancer each year, which means the U.S. has the seventh highest cancer rate in the world.

“We are higher than we should be, and this is not the type of list you want to be on top of,” says Alice Bender, MS, RD, a nutrition communications manager at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in Washington, D.C.

The new rankings were compiled by the AICR,using World Health Organization (WHO) estimates. The American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France are planning to issue a report on the same data in the coming weeks.

The U.S. ranks 10th in the world for cancers in men and 8th for cancer in women, the report shows.

Our lifestyles have a lot to do with our ranking, she says. “Americans are more likely to be overweight, drink more alcohol, and don't engage in as much physical activity as people in other parts of the world,” Bender says.

Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Some Cancers

The good news is that scientists estimate up to one-third of the most common cancers can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, being more physically active, and eating more healthfully.

“The high cancer incidence in the U.S. and other countries is not inevitable,” she says. “Lifestyle changes can really make a difference."

For example, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life could prevent more than 100,000 incidences of cancer, she says.

“Eating less red meat and more whole grains and vegetables, which are rich in fiber and a lot of helpful phytochemicals and antioxidants, can help maintain a healthy weight,” she says.

Avoiding tobacco smoke and sunburns could also help reduce cancer rates, she says.

There are clear links with dietary patterns and many cancers, says Timothy Harlan, MD, the medical director at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

“Getting more fruit and nuts, whole grains, veggies, legumes, fish, as well as consuming less red meat (and lean meats), dairy (preferably processed dairy), quality oils and fats, and moderate alcohol, one can have a dramatic impact on weight, heart disease, diabetes, and cancers,” he says in an email.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article