Nearly fifty percent of cancer in the U.S. related to lifestyle patterns

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Specifically, researchers estimated the number of cancer cases and death overall for 26 types of cancer in adults over the age of 30 in the United States that may be attributed to preventable exposures.

That's less than commonly-cited estimates from more than 35 years ago, a result of new research methods and changes in American society. This includes, of course, giving up smoking and opting for a healthier diet, but it also suggests taking regular screenings, especially if you are at a high risk. Overweight and obesity came in second, responsible for 7.8 percent of cases and 6.5 percent of deaths, while alcohol intake was the third most important factor, leading to 5.6 percent of cancer cases and 4 percent of deaths.

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The numbers speak for themselves: 45 percent of all cancer deaths and 42 percent of all diagnosed cancer cased fall in this category.

The study was published in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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"Our findings emphasize the continued need for widespread implementation of known preventative measures...to reduce the morbidity and premature mortality from cancers associated with potentially modifiable risk factors", the authors said in a statement. This is followed by excess body weight (about eight per cent of cases and seven per cent of deaths), alcohol intake (about six per cent of cases and four per cent of deaths), UV radiation (about five per cent of cases and two per cent of deaths) and lack of physical activity (about three per cent of cases and two per cent of deaths). Excess body weight is another factor following smoking and alcohol intake is another major cancer causing habit. With these risk factors, as found by the professionals associated with lung cancer, colorectal cancer, cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx. Alcohol came in third, while nearly all skin cancers can be traced down to severe exposure to the sun or a tanning booth. As such, researchers surmise that preventive strategies focusing on preventing exposure may reduce the number of cases and deaths from cancer.

Clapp said there is still room for improvement, however. Islami noted that he and his team believe that the percentages they reported are actually an underestimate of the cancers that could be prevented with simple lifestyle tweaks. He said the study doesn't address how two or more risk factors, like smoking and drinking, might work together in some cancer cases and deaths.

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