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Preventing Cancer: A Global Perspective

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:42 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Cancer, Lifestyle, Living Well, Diet, Cancer Prevention, Exercise

One-third of cancers can be prevented through diet and exercise this global study finds.


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia commons/ painting of fruit by Georges Lebacq, 1921/ author: Amisdesbrus


Imagine cutting your cancer risk by one-third through small lifestyle changes? That is possible concludes a joint American-British study on cancer prevention.

Avoiding smoking is always at the top of the list, but adding exercise, maintaining a healthier weight toward the low end of normal, and consuming better foods also top the list. 

Once can check their weight by measuring their Body-Mass Index, which is a mathematical calculation to see if you are overweight or obese.

The research published today, is based on data collected from the U.S., Brazil, China and Britain by the nonprofit American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), and the World Cancer Research Fund, based in the U.K.  The organizations are funded through contributions, not the drug lobby.

Lifestyle changes are simple and may be able to prevent about 38 percent of breast cancer and 45 percent of bowel cancers in the U.S., though accurately targeting a reduction in risk is an estimate, researchers add. 

Dr. Tim Byers, a researcher who contributed to the report from the University of Colorado, tells CBS that "the figures in this report are as good an estimate as it is possible to achieve about the proportion of cancer cases that could be prevented through healthy diet, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight."

Ban junk foods from vending machines and add bicycle lanes to public roads are two things that can improve health, the report recommends.   Other policy recommendations from AICR include:

  • Schools should encourage exercise and provide healthy food
  • Health professionals should provide more information about healthy living and cancer prevention
  • People should use nutrition guides and food labels to buy healthier foods for their families
  • Work 20-30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine at least four days a week

This comes a day after results of another study conclude that moderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of cancers in women. 

Looking at cancer rates around the world, the report finds that the UK, Spain, Australia, and Japan, all have longer life spans than the U.S.

In Japan, cancer rates have increased in proportion to an increase in fat intake from animal sources.  Respiratory disease has increased in countries that have an increasing number of smokers.

Globally, the number of people with cancer is predicted to double by the year 2030 with much of the increase coming in middle and low-income countries, the report concludes and preventing cancer is preferable to treating it. #

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