Study: Vast majority of cancers caused by lifestyle, not “bad luck”

Bad diet, inactivity, smoking and drinking alcohol – all are among the causes of up to 90 percent of cancers, according to a new analysis that stresses how many cases of cancer are under our control.

This paper, published in Nature, is in stark opposition to the paper out earlier this year. Published in Science, that paper found that the majority of cancer cases were caused by “bad luck,” our cells going awry without much people could do to control them. At that time, we pointed out some key flaws with their analysis.

This study used the same premise and a lot of the same data as the Science article to reach a different conclusion: lifestyle makes a difference when it comes to cancer risk.

Here at AICR, where we focus on how diet, physical activity and body fat link to cancer, a wide and consistent body of evidence shows that these factors make a difference. One third of the most common cancers can be prevented with diet, staying lean, and being active.

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Cancer cases increasing in low-income countries, many preventable

Low and middle income countries are now facing rising numbers of breast, colorectal and other common cancers, finds a new study, due in part to increases in obesity, inactivity and smoking around the world. The United States and other high-income countries continue to have the highest cancer rates, but rates have stabilized here.

Today, 1 in 3 premature deaths of all noncommunicable diseases are from cancer.

Today, 1 in 3 premature deaths of all noncommunicable diseases are from cancer.

The study, published today in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, shows a disturbing trend around the world, where many countries have adopted a lifestyle once attributed primarily to the US and other Western countries. AICR estimates that here in the US, about one-third of cancers are preventable if everyone was to be a healthy weight, be active and eat a healthy diet.

Using estimates from the International Agency for Cancer Research and other registries, the study pulled together incidence and mortality for several common cancers around the world. Among the findings described are:

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women worldwide. Incidence increased by about 30 percent in western countries between 1980 and the late 1990s, then these slowed or plateaued since the early 2000s. In Brazil, Uganda and other  low to middle-income countries, rates of this cancer continue to increase. The causes of these increases are not completely understood. Continue reading

Study: Major Rise in Global Obesity, Bad News for Cancer Prevention

A major global report was released today on obesity and the news is grim. The numbers of overweight and obese people around the world have increased dramatically since 1980, in both developing and developed countries and among all age groups, with the United States accounting for 13 percent of the world’s obesity.obesity-and-cancer

The report was published today in The Lancet.

The findings bode ill for cancer prevention: aside from smoking, obesity is the single largest risk factor for cancer. AICR estimates that obesity is a cause of eight cancers, including postmenopausal breast, colorectal and ovarian. Obesity also plays a major role in other chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, which also links to increased cancer risk.

The study included data from over 180 countries. Study researchers systematically identified surveys, reports, and studies that provided Body Mass Index data. A BMI of 25 and over is categorized as overweight; 30 and over is obese.

The Lancet report estimates that worldwide, the proportion of adults with a BMI of 25 or greater increased between 1980 and 2013 from 29 percent to 37 percent in men, and from 30 percent to 38 percent in women. Continue reading