Cancer is the second-most-common cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 1.6 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer in 2016.
What is Cancer?
Defined as abnormal cell growth that can spread to other areas of the body, cancer remains a top concern among doctors and medical practitioners. While it can develop just about anywhere in the body, it typically affects the lungs, breast, prostate, colon, and cervix.
The good news is that cancer can often be prevented. In fact, a recent study found that nearly half of all cancer cases are preventable.
According to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), 42% of all cancer incidences in the United States are attributable to avoidable risk factors.
Additionally, the ACS says that nearly half all cancer-related deaths can be prevented.
So, what does this mean exactly? It means we have greater control over our health and susceptibility to cancer. It’s up to you, however, to take the necessary action to protect your body from disease.
Smoking and Cancer
Not surprisingly, cigarette smoking was the leading preventable risk factor for cancer. After analyzing data on cancer and death rates, researchers from the ACS concluded that smoking accounted for 19% of all cancer incidences in the United States, making it the most influential risk factor of this potentially deadly disease.
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals, more than 40 of which are carcinogenic and hundreds more that are toxic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is linked to 80% to 90% of all lung cancers.
However, it contributes to many other types of cancer as well. As revealed by the ACS, cigarette smoking accounts for some 19% of all cancer cases. Therefore, individuals who want to protect themselves from cancer should avoid smoking.
Obesity and Cancer
Another preventable risk factor for cancer is obesity. In its study, the ACS found that 7.8% of all cancer incidences and 6.5% of all cancer deaths is related to obesity. Coming in third was alcohol consumption which caused 5.6% of all cancer incidences and 4% of all cancer deaths.
There’s a silver lining to this study, however. Statistics show that cancer deaths in the United States have declined by roughly 25% over the past few decades.
While there’s no fool-proof way to protect against cancer completely, you can lower your risk by following some simple steps. First and foremost, don’t smoke. As revealed by the ACS in its latest study, cigarettes dramatically increase the risk of cancer as well as cancer-related death.
Eating the right foods and exercising can also lower your risk of cancer. A diet high in processed food and red meat will increase your risk of cancer, whereas a diet high in lean meat and vegetables will lower your risk of cancer. Along with exercising on a regular basis, eating the right foods will keep you on the right track to better health and reducing your risk of cancer.