The number of deaths from cancer could potentially be reduced significantly by maintaining healthier lifestyles, according to a US study.1
The long-term research, which originated from the Harvard Medical School, featured a group of more than 100,000 people in the healthcare industry. They were asked to provide answers to a questionnaire on their lifestyle and cancer status every two years, and about their diet every four years.
Researchers used the information provided to compare lifestyle risk factors with the development of cancer, while also comparing the low-risk group of medical professionals to the general population of the US.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that many cases of cancer and death could be directly linked to high-risk lifestyles, such as smoking, heavy drinking, obesity and physical inactivity. The study estimated that between a quarter and a third of all cases of cancer in the high-risk medical group could be attributed to poor lifestyle, while the numbers were even higher in the general population.
While the study was able to add to previous research that healthy lifestyles can reduce the risk of some cancers, it did have some limitations. One of these was the researchers only involved white Americans from the healthcare industry, who are likely to be more health-conscious than the general population.
The comparison group also only focused on white people in the general population, so the results may not be transferable to people of other ethnicities. It is also possible that some of the estimates provided lacked accuracy, as well as possible inaccuracies within the questionnaires.
However, it does suggest that making small changes to your lifestyle, such as maintaining a healthy weight or stopping smoking, can have a significant affect in reducing your risk of developing cancer.
1 Song M, Giovannucci E. Preventable Incidence and Mortality of Carcinoma Associated With Lifestyle Factors Among White Adults in the United States. JAMA Oncology. Published online May 19 2016
HALF of all cancer deaths could be avoided if we simply adopted a healthier lifestyle. Daily Mail, May 19 2016