4 in 10 cancer cases can be prevented with these lifestyle changes

A study conducted by scientists from Cancer Research U.K. (CRUK) showed that positive lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or maintaining a healthy weight, can significantly lower your cancer risk. The study findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Make healthier choices to lower your cancer risk

In the landmark study by CRUK, researchers analyzed factors in peoples’ lives that cause cancer. They then calculated how many cases in the U.K. were associated with each of these risk factors.

For this study, researchers used all the latest available data and evidence to provide more accurate estimates and update current data.

The results of the study showed that over 135,000 cases of cancer (or four in 10 cases) could be prevented in the U.K. annually by making lifestyle changes. These cancer risk factors have already been confirmed, but the study results highlight the importance of how your daily habits can add up and affect your well-being.

Dr. Katrina Brown, who led the analysis at CRUK, explained that the research team collated data from national surveys that showed how common each risk factor is in the population. The researchers also used data from the U.K. cancer registries showing how many cases of each cancer type there are. They then searched published research for data on how much each risk factor increases cancer risk using only “gold standard epidemiology research.”

Smoking- and obesity-related cancer cases

To illustrate, these studies compared the number of cancers in individuals who smoke to the number of cancers in non-smokers to get a relative risk of cancer in smokers. Using this information, together with data on how common smoking is in the U.K. and how many cases of smoking-related cancer types exist, the CRUK researchers estimated how many of those cancer cases were due to smoking.

The researchers did this for all the modifiable risk factors. The results showed that in total, over 135,000 cases of cancer could be prevented through lifestyle changes like:

The study findings confirmed that smoking is the biggest cause of cancer. Based on the new calculations, it’s responsible for a whopping 54,300 cases of cancer every year in the U.K.

The new data likewise revealed that being overweight or obese increases the risk of about 13 different types of cancer. The findings suggest that obesity causes at least 22,800 cases of cancer in the U.K. annually, making it the second biggest cause of cancer in the U.K. after smoking. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of individuals are aware of the link between obesity and cancer. National campaigns can help educate the public about this dangerous link.

What can American readers learn from this U.K.-based study? Your main takeaways should be: While prevention doesn’t guarantee that you will never develop cancer, making positive lifestyle changes can still significantly lower cancer risk.

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