Lifestyle Factors Can Prevent Up to 50% of US Cancer Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mingyang Song
Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although substantial data support the importance of lifestyle factors for cancer risk, a study published in Science early last year “led some to conclude that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions, while most is due to random mutations arising during stem cell divisions, so-called bad luck.” That study “has been widely covered by the press and has created confusion for the public regarding the preventability of cancer.” In response to that study, we conducted this study to estimate how many cancer cases and deaths in the US can be potentially attributed to common lifestyle factors. Our study showed that about 20-30% of cancer incidences and 40-50% of cancer deaths may be avoided if everyone in the US adopted a lifestyle pattern that is characterized by “never or past smoking (pack-years <5), no or moderate alcohol drinking ([1]1 drink/d for women,[1]2 drinks/d for men), BMI of at least 18.5 but lower than 27.5, and weekly aerobic physical activity of at least 75 vigorous-intensity or 150 moderate-intensity minutes”.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings support that lifestyle factors are important determinants for cancer risk and primary prevention should still take the priority for cancer control efforts (ie, maintaining a healthy lifestyle).

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further studies should continue examining the biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between these lifestyle factors and cancer development.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Song M, Giovannucci E. Preventable Incidence and Mortality of Carcinoma Associated With Lifestyle Factors Among White Adults in the United States. JAMA Oncol. Published online May 19, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0843.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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