Is Cancer a Preventable Disease?

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Is Cancer a Preventable DiseaseCancer is one of the leading causes of death not just in North America but globally. Billions of dollars are spent on early diagnosis, advanced imaging technology, treatment strategies, and research. Although some great advancements have been made, the people who seem to be benefitting are those who have already been diagnosed with this dreaded disease.

What can be done to actually prevent cancer from developing?

Despite the evidence to the contrary, there are those who are skeptical regarding the prospect of cancer prevention. Even the leading cancer agencies are not providing a clear and direct message to the public that cancer is a preventable disease. There is nothing wrong with providing services to cancer patients and donations for much needed research but some simple lifestyle changes could make a huge difference in the prevalence of cancer throughout the U.S.

The new 2014 World Cancer Report published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has data from over 250 researchers which indicates that cancer prevention needs to be the main focus to reduce the incidence of cancer. The preventative strategy involves the consideration of lifestyle factors in the development of this chronic disease, some of which include the effects that smoking, excess alcohol consumption, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle have upon the development of cancer.

Despite what some experts say regarding the development of cancer, the World Health Organization and the American Society for Clinical Oncology have suggested that there be a concerted effort on a worldwide basis to prevent cancer. These same organizations have reported that at least one in three cases of cancer diagnosed in the U.S. today is directly the result of modifiable risk factors like obesity, diet, and lack of physical activity. If you consider the effects of smoking upon cancer incidence, this situation becomes even more troubling.

According to this new report, smoking is still the number one preventable cause of cancer death throughout the world today. Although smoking has been directly associated with the development of lung cancer, research has indicated that several other forms of cancer originating in the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, bladder, pancreas, and bone marrow can be directly attributable to smoking. Excess alcohol intake is also directly attributed to the development of cancers of the liver, mouth, breast, and esophagus.

The new cancer prevention campaign developed by the American Institute for Cancer Research provides the message of “Eat well, move more, stay lean, and of course, don’t smoke.”

Obesity, a poor diet, and the lack of physical activity can cause some changes to your internal physiology which may cause cancer growth. Cancer originating in the breast, digestive tract, and pancreas can be attributed to the excess accumulation of body fat. Being obese causes a distinct increase in inflammation, hormones, and growth factors which can act as a catalyst for cancer growth.

Diets higher in processed foods, sugar, saturated fat, and nitrates have also been associated with higher cancer rates. Regular physical activity has also been previously shown to be protective from cancer growth, especially those of the colon and breast.

Despite the lack of political ability and the growing influence of special interest groups, the need to reduce cancer incidence from the implementation of prevention strategies has never been greater.

Sources:
Chustecka, Z., “Cancers Caused by Lifestyle Behaviors: Experts Urge Action,” Medscape web site; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/820278, last accessed Feb.18, 2014.
“Don’t Be Myth-Informed,” American Institute of Cancer Research web site; http://www.aicr.org/learn-more-about-cancer/infographic-dont-be-myth-informed.html, last accessed Feb.18, 2014.

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