By Margarita Nahapetyan
More than 40 per cent of breast and bowel cancers in rich countries could be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, according to authors of a new joint American-British study.
Authors of the study state that about a third of the cancer cases reported every year in the United States could be prevented through a healthy diet, physical activity and by maintaining healthier weights.
The study was led by Michael Marmot from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research. He worked in collaboration with 23 experts in order to analyze the statistics on cancer from across the world. The researchers complied their report using data from Brazil, Britain, China and the United States.
The incidence of 12 common cancers and information on diet, exercise and weight has been carefully studied to determine how these factors contributed to kidney, mouth, lung, gallbladder and some other types of cancers.
It was found that overall people who live in rich countries and lead healthy and clean lives, can prevent more than 30 per cent of the most common cases of cancer. To be more particular, 43 per cent of colon cancer cases and 42 per cent of breast cancer cases are preventable in Britain, and 45 per cent of bowel cancer and 38 per cent of breast cancer cases - in the United States. The same benefits were established for even poor countries, as they could reduce the risk of developing cancers by 25 per cent.
The report stated that increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet and cutting down on an alcohol consumption could prevent 67 per cent of cases of mouth, pharynx and larynx cancer each year. In addition, with the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight, as well as with alcohol intake reduction, there is a higher chance to prevent 75 per cent of the esophagus cases, and 45 per cent of stomach cancer.
Meanwhile, 41 per cent of cases of pancreatic cancer could be prevented if people kept their weight under control and consumed more foods containing folate, such as green vegetables, brown rice and fortified breakfast cereals.
As to bowel cancer, the cases could be cut by 43 per cent if individuals ate food rich in fiber, cut down on red and processed meats and alcohol, and started engaging in more exercising while keeping their weight within healthy limits.
Nearly 19 per cent of kidney cancers could be prevented by keeping weight in check while 42 per cent of breast cancer cases could be prevented by reducing the consumption of alcohol, more exercising and keeping weight under control.
The researchers said that their report was possibly the most comprehensive among the ones that have ever been published on the subject, and was compiled by two independent teams of experts who systematically analyzed the evidence for how policy changes and interventions influence the behaviors that affect the risk of cancer.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, chair of the WCRF panel, said: "This report shows that by making relatively straightforward changes, we could significantly reduce the number of cancer cases around the world. While governments are important in this, the evidence shows that when it comes to cancer prevention, all groups in society have a role to play."
The WCRF recommends that people who want to prevent the developing of cancer, should keep themselves as lean as possible without becoming underweight, and eat five portions of fruit and veggies on a daily basis.