Significant Number of Cancer Cases Linked to Modifiable Risk Factors

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Posted Dec 4, 2017

A recent study by the American Cancer Society estimates that a significant number of cancer cases in the U.S. are attributable to major, potentially modifiable risk factors. The authors of the study examined the proportion and number of invasive cancer cases and deaths, overall and for 26 cancer types, in adults aged 30 years and older in 2014. Of these cases, an estimated 42% of all cancers and 45.1% of cancer deaths were attributable to risk factors that people can take active measures to change.

The modifiable risk factors identified in the study include cigarette smoking; secondhand smoke; excess body weight; alcohol intake; consumption of red and processed meat; low consumption of fruits/vegetables, dietary fiber, and dietary calcium; physical inactivity; ultraviolet radiation; and six cancer-associated infections. Cigarette smoking accounted for the highest proportion of cancer cases (19%; 298,970 cases) and deaths (28.8%; 169,180 deaths), followed by excess body weight (7.8% and 6.5%, respectively) and alcohol intake (5.6% and 4.0%, respectively).

The study's authors conclude that these findings underscore the extensive potential for reducing cancer morbidity and mortality through broad and equitable implementation of known preventive measures.

Published Nov. 21, 2017, in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the report can be found here »