Monday, May 23, 2016

Up to 70% of cancers could be prevented

Old research challenged: 'Bad behavior trumps bad luck' when it comes to causes of diseases 

I've always been a believer in preventive medicine and a healthy lifestyle.

And a new analysis published in JAMA Oncology shows I've been on the right track.

The journal says between 40 and 70 percent of U.S. cancer deaths could be prevented if Americans stopped smoking, cut down on their alcohol, maintained a healthy weight and exercised at least 150 minutes each week.

In the meantime, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease, the article indicates.

Findings in the study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and reported today by Melissa Healy in the Los Angeles Times suggest women who followed the preventive guidelines reduced their risk of breast cancer by 15 percent, lung cancer by 85 percent, other cancers somewhere in between.

Men did even better, as high as 90 percent for lung cancer.

A total of 89,571 women and 46,339 men participated in the analysis, which the Times said "was based on cancer rates and health behaviors in two large and long-running studies of health professionals — the Nurses' Health study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study," and which also used data from the National Cancer Institute.

The findings, according to the article, "present a significant challenge to research published last year that said as many as 80 percent of cancers might be attributable to factors beyond the control of individuals — the 'back luck' hypothesis. Instead the new research offers evidence that bad behavior trumps bad luck as a cause of cancer."

Edward Giovannucci
 Mingyang Song
The Times story quoted Dr. Mingyang Song of Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard T.H. Cohn School, the study's authors, as believing "primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control."

Unfortunately, American adults remain vested in bad habits and bad lifestyle choices.

Apparently, about 17 percent, roughly 40 million, are still smoking cigarettes; obesity is a problem for 38 percent; almost a quarter of them do no exercise outside of job requirements; and 6.7 percent report they're heavy drinkers (with a full quarter  of adults acknowledging they engaged in binge drinking in the last month).

The top 10 causal factors account for nearly 75 percent of all deaths — with heart disease and cancer followed, in turn, by chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, Alzheimer's, diabetes, flu and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.

Information and statistics on other studies can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, have aimed at male caregivers.

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