Cancer is a word many of my patients dread to hear, which is not surprising.
This year alone, nearly 600,000 people are expected to die of cancer.
But this number could be drastically lower. Researchers with the American Cancer Society analyzed national cancer data from over 1.5 million cancer cases in 2014.
They found that 42 percent of all cancer cases and over 45 percent of all cancer deaths might have been prevented if people addressed lifestyle choices.
These lifestyle choices are not going to surprise you as I talk about them all the time. Smoking cigarettes was the top risk factor accounting for 20 percent of the cancer cases and almost 29 percent of deaths.
Next was obesity or being overweight - responsible for nearly 8 percent of cancer cases and 6.5 percent of deaths.
Alcohol intake was the third risk factor connected to 5.6 percent of cancer cases and 4 percent of deaths.
There are other important factors that are within your control and I’m going to include them in my prescriptions:
1. Avoid tanning beds and other ultraviolet radiation activities. They contributed to 4.7 percent of cancer cases.
2. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Lack of these nutritious foods was connected to 3 percent of cancer deaths.
3. Exercise– make it part of your daily life. Not getting enough physical activity contributed to 2.9 percent of cancer cases.
4. Limit or cut back on eating processed and red meats. They were attributable to 1.3 percent of cancer cases and deaths.
While some of these percentages sound small, if you combine a few of these lifestyle choices your risk for cancer will obviously increase.
Lung cancer was at the top of the list, followed by liver cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer and skin melanoma cancer. All of these are connected to lifestyle choices.
I find this study actually encouraging because now you know what you can change to live a longer and more healthy life.