Lifestyle Choices may Reduce Cancer Death Rates

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

JANUARY 04, 2018

Before I read this article, I was irritated by the title. Was this going to be another of those ridiculous stories that suggest that if we eat right, get enough sleep and manage our stress, we will live to be a healthy 100? Or, worse, was it going to promise that daily helpings of sea weed and mega vitamins will keep cancer away? (and that sentence reminds me of a beloved colleague and friend, Roger Lange, who died of multiple myeloma a few years ago. Roger was a superb physician and a clear thinker who scoffed at all of the kinds of recommendations that I just wrote about. When pressed by his patients who asked about special diets or supplements, he smiled and told them to eat lots of broccoli. Note that it did him no good. It is all about biology.) 

Instead this is a reasonably sane and balanced article from Medscape that reminds us of the few things we can actually do to improve our overall health, maybe even our cancer health. The big risk is smoking, and the advice is don't do it. We knew that. The other suggestions include poor diet, obesity, and infections. I presume that a longer list would include alcohol in moderation and regular exercise. So, nothing new here, but good reminders. 


One Third of Cancer Deaths Could Be Prevented by Lifestyle

Kristen Jenkins

As we head into the festive season, many are looking forward to the tradition of "Eat, drink, and be merry." But as another research paper shows that more than a third of cancer deaths could be prevented by lifestyle, maybe a qualifier should be added:"celebration in moderation."
The latest statistics come from Australia, where researchers note that 44,004 cancer deaths occurred in 2013. But an estimated 38% of these deaths and 33% of cancer diagnoses could have been prevented with healthy lifestyle choices, says a research team led by Louise Wilson, MEpi, at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Queensland, Brisbane.
These cancer diagnoses and deaths were seen in Australians of all ages and are directly attributable to 20 known modifiable risk factors within eight categories that are established causes of cancer, the study authors say.
The report is published in the February 2018 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.
Smoking was the leading cause of preventable cancer death in Australia in 2013 and accounted for 23% of all cancer deaths. The study authors estimate that about two thirds of the tobacco-attributable cancer deaths were due to lung cancer.

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