Four in 10 Cancers Could Be Prevented By Making Better Lifestyle Choices, Study Finds

A new report revealed that more than 2,500 cancer cases a week in the United Kingdom could be avoided with lifestyle changes. The findings also help show how lifestyle adjustments can lower the risk for cancer.

The results are part of a study published Friday in the British Journal of Cancer in which scientists studied cancer rates in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom in 2015. The scientists then calculated how many of these cancers could be attributed to modifiable risks, such as diet and lifestyle factors.

Results revealed that 37.7 percent of all yearly cancer diagnoses in the U.K. could be avoided by lifestyle changes. This translates to four in 10 cancers, or 2,500 cancer diagnoses a week, Cancer Research UK reports. 

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The research found that tobacco use was the lifestyle choice most associated with 2015 cancer cases in the U.S. That year, 17.7 percent of all male cancer cases and 12.4 percent of all female cases could be attributed to smoking. The National Institute of Health associated cigarette smoking with lung, esophagial, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon and rectal cancer. Some forms of blood cancer are also associated with cigarette smoking.

03_23_smoking Cancer is largely preventable and cutting down on certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, may help reduce your personal risk. Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

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Excess weight was associated with the second highest amount of preventable cancer diagnoses, with one in 20 cancer causes being linked to obesity. The link between cancer risk and obesity is relatively new, though researchers believe weight can lead to an increased risk for endometrial , esophageal, liver and kidney cancers, among others, Cancer.gov reported.

Other big preventable causes of cancer included overexposure to sun UV radiation, drinking too much alcohol and eating too little fiber, Cancer Research UK noted.

Although these results were found in a U.K. population, they're also “applicable to the wide population of the US,” Dr. Paolo Boffetta, a professor and associate director of cancer prevention at Mount Sinai, told Newsweek. Boffetta noted that there might be disparities in risk factors among ethnic groups. 

The report also shows that smoking prevalence is dropping and the rate of smoking-related cancer is expectect to decrease as well. The researchers hope that increased awareness of the cancer risks associated with lifestyle choices may lead to further reductions.

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