Simple lifestyle changes may prevent one in two cancer deaths and 40 percent of all cancers, a new American Cancer Society research has claimed. The study has been published in CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The research was led by authors Kimberly D Miller, Ann Goding Sauer, and Farhad Islami.

Data from CDC and National Cancer Institute

The research, titled “Proportion and number of cancer cases and deaths attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors in the United States,” was made possible after the researchers collected data on cancer incidences and deaths from the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the researchers, about half of the cancer-related deaths may have been prevented. Proper preventive strategies, such as vaccinations against HBV and HPV infections, and reducing smoking via excise taxes on cigarettes, could have been effective. Every year, around 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer. Approximately 7.6 million die every year.

Researchers point out the culprits

The recent study primarily focused on US cancer statistics in the year 2014. The researchers identified poor intake of dietary fiber, vegetables, fruits, dietary calcium, excessive consumption of red meat and alcohol, lack of physical activity, obesity, and active and passive smoking as the major culprits.

The study also mentioned six infections including HIV AIDS, HPV, hepatitis C, and sun’s ultra-violet radiation exposure as leading causes of cancer. These culprits have been linked to 26 types of cancers, mostly affecting people aged 30 and above. The researchers took help from various large studies and nationally representative surveys to obtain the absence and presence of risk factors among cancer patients.

Cigarette smoking poses the greatest threat

The studies and surveys from where the researchers took help, looked at the relative risks associated with cancer. Without considering the non-melanoma type of skin cancers, in 2014, there was a 42 percent association with the risk factors evaluated. The number came to 659,640 of 1570,975 cancers.

Around 45.1 percent of the Cancer deaths were found to be associated with the risk factors. The number came to 265,150 of 587,521 deaths. Cigarette smoking is the most dangerous of the factors, being associated with the highest number of cancer cases (298,970 cases or 19 percent), and deaths (169,180 cases or 28.8 percent).

Being overweight or obese came close, with 6.5 percent of deaths and 7.8 percent of cases. Over-consumption of alcohol resulted in 5.6 percent of the cancer cases and four percent of deaths. The researchers pointed out that lifestyle choices also raised the risk of other types of cancers, such as skin cancers, colorectal cancers, and lung cancers.