Last week the American Cancer Society (ACS) released their annual update of US cancer statistics specifically related to cancer prevention. That report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures, turns raw data from cancer registries and other sources into easy-to-understand statistics on cancer incidence and cancer mortality on a year-by-year basis.
This year, the report’s take-home message is the pressing need for collaboration among government, private corporations, non-profit organizations, health care providers and other groups in efforts to prevent cancer. We at AICR welcome this call, which echoes the conclusions of our policy report. And we are pleased to see ACS citing the AICR/WCRF Expert Report so prominently, in the section titled “Overweight and Obesity, Physical Activity and Nutrition”:
Obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition are major risk factors for cancer, second only to tobacco use. One-third of the more than 500,000 cancer deaths in the US this year can be attributed to diet and physical inactivity habits, including overweight and obesity, while another one-third are caused by use of tobacco products.
Although genetic inheritance plays a role in the risk of some individuals developing cancer, non-inherited factors have a larger impact on cancer risk for the population as a whole. Avoiding the use of tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active throughout life, and consuming a healthy diet can substantially reduce a person’s lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer.
In an environment when the public is bombarded with health messages from every quarter — including those hawking products — any instance when different health experts speak in a single clear voice is noteworthy. We at AICR welcome the new ACS report, because it helps make clear that when it comes to preventing cancer, there is already a consistent, evidence-based message that should rise above the noise:
Eat smart. Move more. Weigh less. And, of course, don’t smoke.