If more Americans quit smoking, lost a little weight and started eating better, at least 60,000 cancer deaths could be avoided each year, according to a report issued this week by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The report recommended 12 steps that could increase cancer prevention and detection, including enforcing laws to reduce tobacco use, developing a national strategy to decrease obesity and encourage a healthy diet and improving the public's understanding of cancer prevention.
The experts said that "just applying what we know" would lead to a 19 percent decline in new cancer cases, and a 29 percent decrease in deaths by 2015. That translates into prevention of 100,000 new cancer cases and 60,000 deaths from cancer each year.
Many of the behaviors placing people at increased risk for cancer are well recognized, and calls for change are not new. What is new, however, is the growing body of evidence confirming the effectiveness of interventions helping people improve their health-related behaviors. several examples were cited where behavioral changes have led to a decrease in cancer. Declining tobacco use, for instance, has been correlated with a decrease in lung cancer deaths.
The American Cancer Society is starting a new push for more physical activity and better nutrition. Epidemiologists from his organization published a study in late April showing a link between obesity and increased risk of 14 types of cancer.
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