Cancer is a tricky disease to navigate. A perplexing combination of genetic and environmental/lifestyle variables contribute to it—but new research suggests almost half of all cases are actually within your control.
A study led by Dr. Farhad Islami at the American Cancer Society, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, analyzed cancer data and found that 42% of all cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths could be avoided by changing certain lifestyle habits. That’s good news considering that cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States.
Which lifestyle factors contribute to cancer?
The findings reveal which habits (otherwise known as modifiable risk factors) contribute to the most cancer cases—and they are telling. Unsurprisingly, smoking came in at number one, causing 20% of all cancer cases. Being overweight or obese was the second-riskiest factor, accounting for nearly 8% of cases. Drinking alcohol constituted 5.6% of cases; unsafe UV exposure accounted for 4.7% of cases; while lack of exercise claimed 2.9% of cases. Eating too few fruits and veggies accounted for 2% of cancers. Just last week, the CDC reported that 90% of Americans are not eating enough produce. Lastly, consumption of red and processed meat accounted for 1.3% of cases. (Find out why all red meat is not created equal.)
How to minimize your cancer risk
This study demonstrates that while all cancers may not be avoidable, a large percentage of them are within your control. To live a better, healthier life and hopefully keep diseases like cancer in check, take these next steps to reduce your risk:
- Quit smoking without medication. Here’s how.
- Unwind with kava instead of alcohol.
- Try a fat-fueled weight loss plan.
- Adopt a HIIT-style workout that keeps the weight off (without a major time commitment)
- Eat more vegetables with these tasty recipes: Roasted Butternut Squash, Bulletproof Veggie Buddha Bowl