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Nearly half of all cancer cases linked to modifiable risk factors

A new study from the American Cancer Society has ranked different modifiable risk factors to the incidence of certain cancers. The results show that more than 4 in 10 cancer cases in the U.S are related to at least one major modifiable risk factor.

The study was led by Farhad Islami of the American Cancer Society and was published in the online journal, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

For the study, the researchers examined known risk factors for cancer such smoking, excess body weight, alcohol, poor diet, UV radiation, physical inactivity, processed meats and secondhand-smoke.

The research team then connected those known risk factors to cancer statistics for 26 different types of cancer cases and deaths.

The study also calculated combined contributions of risk factors, like excess body weight, alcohol intake and poor diet, to see if this further increased the risk of cancer.

The results show that in the United States, approximately 42 percent of all cancer cases and 45 percent of cancer deaths in 2014 were attributed to one or more of the modifiable risk factors identified in the study.

Smoking was linked to 19 percent of cancer cases and nearly 30 percent of deaths. Excess weight was the second biggest risk factor for cancer, causing 7.8 percent of cancer cases.

The study also connected risk factors to certain types of cancer. For example, smoking accounted for 81.7 percent of all lung cancers, 73.8 percent of larynx cancers, and 50 percent of esophageal cancers.

Excess weight was linked to 60.3 percent of uterine cancers and alcohol consumption was associated with almost 25 percent of liver cancers in men.

When the researchers combined risk factors to calculate its contribution to cancers, excess weight, alcohol consumption, poor diet, and physical inactivity accounted for 13.9 percent of all cancer cases in men and 22.4 percent in women.

The study’s results highlight just how certain preventable risk factors contribute to cancer and cancer deaths, emphasizing how reducing and eliminating each with lifestyle changes could go a long way.

“Our findings emphasize the continued need for widespread implementation of known preventive measures in the country to reduce the morbidity and premature mortality from cancers associated with potentially modifiable risk factors.” the authors write. “Increasing access to preventive health care and awareness about preventive measures should be part of any comprehensive strategy for broad and equitable implementation of known interventions to accelerate progress against cancer.”

Image Credit: American Cancer Society

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

Image Credit: American Cancer Society

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