Can You Prevent Cancer with Healthy Lifestyle?

Prevent Cancer with Healthy Lifestyle

According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2016 and 595,690 people will die from this severe disease. Cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States. There are numerous ways one can reduce* chances for developing cancer and healthy lifestyle was considered the most important thing to do to prevent it. But, the question is – can healthy lifestyle really help you prevent cancer? Let’s see.

Cancer prevention through healthy lifestyle

Healthcare providers and scientists always recommended making some lifestyle tweaks in order to reduce* your chances of developing cancer. That subject was inspected in a study conducted by Mingyang Song and Edward Giovannucci of Harvard Medical School. They analyzed data from two study groups of white participants. They wanted to examine the link between healthy lifestyle and cancer incidence and death.

The research included 89,571 women and 46,399 men. Of these:

  • 16,531 women and 11,731 men had a healthy lifestyle
  • 73,040 women and 34,606 men had unhealthy lifestyle pattern.

For the purpose of the research, scientists first defined healthy lifestyle pattern. It included:

  • Past smoking and/or no history of smoking
  • No or moderate consumption of alcohol (one or less drink a day for women, and two or less for men)
  • BMI of about 18.5 but everything lower than 27.5 was accepted into healthy lifestyle pattern
  • Weekly aerobic physical activity of about 150 minutes moderate intensity exercises or 75 minutes of vigorous exercises.
Healthcare Providers

Participants who met all criteria were considered to have low chances of developing cancer, while the rest were assumed to be at a higher risk. Scientists calculated PAR (population-attributable risk) which can be interpreted of ratio of cases that wouldn’t occur if all participants followed a healthy lifestyle.

Results of the study were published in the JAMA Oncology and they showed that between 20% and 40% of cases of cancer and about half of total number of cancer-induced deaths could be prevented through lifestyle modifications. Scientists concluded the study stating the findings only confirm that healthy lifestyle is the priority for preventing and reducing* chances for cancer.

Who’s at risk of developing cancer?

Although scientists still don’t know all factors that increase* your risk for developing cancer, here are the ones they have identified so far:

  • Your age – Majority of cancer patients are older than 65
  • Your habits – As we have already established in this article, unhealthy lifestyle puts you at a higher risk for getting cancer
  • Family history – If cancer is common in your family, it’s possible mutations are passed from one generation onto the next one
  • Health conditions – Some chronic health conditions like ulcerative colitis can significantly increase* your chances for developing cancer
  • Environment – Living in the place contaminated with dangerous chemicals, inhaling secondhand smoke etc.

Cancer in the US

The most common types of cancer in the United States are:

The total number of new cases of cancer is 454,8 per 100,000 women and men a year while the total number of cancer deaths is 171,2 per 100,000 women and men per year. With that being said, the cancer mortality is more prevalent in men than in women and it’s at its highest in African American men and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander women.


Cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world. Doctors always recommended making lifestyle tweaks in order to reduce* your chances and the latest study only confirmed that 20% to 40% of cancer cases could, indeed, be prevented with healthy lifestyle. Therefore, to decrease* the risk for getting this invasive disease, you should start now by eating healthy and ditching unhealthy foods, exercising, and decreasing* alcohol intake.

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