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Lifestyle and Cancer Risk

Posted 5/26/2016

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  I have been debating whether or not to share this article from Medscape. It describes a recent study from JAMA Oncology that suggests lifestyle changes might reduce the risk of cancer. On the one hand, anything that keeps us healthy and that is in our own control is a good thing. On the other hand, I hate the implication that we are responsible for our cancers, that it was somehow our own fault. It wasn't.

  The study from MGH recommends not smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and drinking minimally. Surely these are all good suggestions for good health in general, but I remain uneasy with the inferences about cancer. We know that somethings are cancer-causing, like tobacco, and we know that there are associations with cancer for a number of things, like being obese. It would be a very big mistake, however, for anyone to believe that some diet tweaking and more walking will prevent cancer.

  Here is the start and then a link to read more. Would love your thoughts about this.

Lifestyle Changes Can Dramatically Cut Cancer Incidence
Roxanne Nelson, BSN, RN 

About 20% to 40% of cancer cases and about half of all cancer deaths can potentially be avoided by making modifications in lifestyle, according to new findings.
After investigating cancer risk among a portion of the US white population, the authors of a large cohort study concluded that a large proportion of cancer cases and related mortality could be prevented if people did not smoke, drank only a little alcohol, maintained a healthy weight (ie, maintained a body mass index [BMI] of 18.5 to 27.5), and exercised regularly at moderate intensity (ie, at least 150 minutes of vigorous exercise for at least 75 minutes every week).
The impact may even be larger — about 40% to 70% of cancer cases ― for the general white population, who for the most part follow worse lifestyle patterns than the study cohort, the investigators note.
The study was published online May 19 in JAMA Oncology.
However, there are formidable challenges as to how to implement these lifestyle modification strategies.
"Right now, a new discipline is emerging to study how to best translate the knowledge into disease prevention actions," said study coauthor Mingyang Song, MD, ScD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston. "It's called implementation science. I expect to see great progress in this critically important area."

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