The biggest factors in cancer risk were cigarette smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, exposure to second-hand smoke, consuming too much red and processed meats, and not eating enough fruits and veggies.
Based on nationally representative data for 2014, the analysis showed that potentially modifiable risk factors accounted for 42% of cancers and 45% of cancer deaths. On the other hand, cancer cases and deaths linked to excess body weight, alcohol intake, physical inactivityand human papilloma virus (HPV) infection were higher in women.
A large new study from the American Cancer Society lists risk factors for various types of cancer.
Cigarette smoking accounted for the highest proportion of cancer cases (19.0%; 298,970 cases) and deaths (28.8%; 169,180 deaths), followed by excess body weight (7.8% of cases; 6.5% of deaths), alcohol intake (5.6% of cases; 4.0% of deaths), UV radiation (4.7% of cancers; 1.5% of deaths), and physical inactivity (2.9% of cases and 2.2% of deaths). In particular with respect to cancers for which avoidable risk factors for disease with important risk factors are poorly known (prostate and pancreas) or whose level of proof is insufficient.
"The results indicated that we can prevent a substantial proportion of cancers with the help of behavior and prevention strategies", said lead study author Dr. Farhad Islami, Strategic Director of Cancer Surveillance Research at the American Cancer Society.
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.
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds was associated with 96 percent of skin cancers in men and 94 percent in women. Other cancers for which preventable factors accounted for at least three-fourths of total case volume included cutaneous melanoma (95.1%), anal cancer (88.2%), lung cancer (85.8%), laryngeal cancer (83.2%), and oropharyngeal/nasal cavity/paranasal sinus cancers (77.9%).
- Alcohol intake was associated with 25 percent of liver cancers in men and 12 percent in women; 17 percent of colorectal cancers in men and 8 percent in women; and 16 percent of breast cancers in women.
They found that a similar number of deaths - 45 percent - could be linked to these factors.
Richard Clapp, a professor emeritus of environmental health at Boston University expects the new numbers to be will widely cited and used to make decisions about how to spend money on cancer prevention, just as the influential British study from 1981 by researchers Richard Doll and Richard Peto has been.
Cancer specialists have long recognized causal associations between potentially modifiable risk factors and various types of cancer, Islami and co-authors noted in their introduction.
The authors disclosed no relevant relationships with industry.