More than 4 in 10 Cancers Preventable, New Study Says

42 percent of the cancer cases in the United States may be preventable, according to a new study and researchers from the American Cancer Society.

While some cancers, such as those that are hereditary, are beyond one’s control, researchers who conducted a new study found that nearly half of American cancer cases may be prevented through changing habits and avoiding certain activities now known to contribute to the development of cancer.

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, calls the new study ”the most extensive review” to date, WebMD reports.

Cancers linked to preventable risk factors

  • Lung cancer, with more than 85% of cases
  • Liver cancer, 71%
  • Colorectal cancer, 54%
  • Breast cancer, nearly 29%

The 3 biggest risk factors for cancer

1. Cigarette smoking

Cigarette smoking was linked to the highest percent of cancer cases, at 19%, and the highest number of cancer-related deaths at 28%. Smoking rates are higher in men than women, thus cancer-related to smoking affected more men.

2. Being overweight or obese

Bodyweight was accountable for approximately 8% of cancer cases and 6.5% of cancer-related deaths. Excess weight was a factor at twice the rate for women versus men.

3. Alcohol consumption

Alcohol was linked to 5.6% of cancer-related cases and 4% of cancer-related deaths. Alcohol-related risk factor for women was 6.4% and 4.8% in men.

Most common risk factors for cancer

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Obesity (linked to colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and others)
  • Alcohol (liver, throat, others)
  • Red and processed meats (colorectal)
  • Too few fruits and vegetables (throat)
  • Too little fiber in diet (colorectal)
  • Too little calcium in diet (colorectal)
  • Too little exercise (breast, colon)
  • Ultraviolet light (melanoma)
  • Six cancer-linked infections including H. pylori (stomach), hepatitis B and C (liver), herpes (Kaposi’s sarcoma), HIV (lymphoma, Kaposi’s), and human papillomavirus (oral, throat, penis, vagina, and others)

You can get a DNA to see what cancers might run in your family. While you can’t alter your genes, you can avoid anything that might make you a higher risk. This is also a good way to know if you need any extra screenings. If any of these cancers run in your family, you can start working with your primary care doctor for a plan of action.

Remember, the earlier detection, the higher your chance of beating this aggressive disease.