Healthday News — An estimated 42.0% of all incident cancers and 45.1% of cancer deaths in the United States are attributed to potentially modifiable risk factors, according to a study in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Farhad Islami, MD, PhD, from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues estimated the proportion and number of invasive cancer cases and deaths overall (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers), and for 26 cancer types in US adults aged 30 years and older that were attributed to major, potentially modifiable exposures.

The researchers found that an estimated 42.0% of all incident cancers (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers) and 45.1% of cancer deaths were attributed to the assessed risk factors (cigarette smoking; secondhand smoke; excess body weight; alcohol intake; consumption of red and processed meat; low consumption of fruits/vegetables, dietary fiber, and dietary calcium; physical inactivity; ultraviolet radiation; and 6 cancer-associated infections). The highest proportion of cancer cases and death (19.0% and 28.8%, respectively) were attributed to cigarette smoking, followed by excess body weight (7.8% and 6.5%, respectively) and alcohol intake (5.6% and 4.0%, respectively). Lung cancer had the highest number of cancers and deaths attributable to the evaluated risk factors, followed by colorectal cancer.

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“These findings underscore the vast potential for reducing cancer morbidity and mortality through broad and equitable implementation of known preventive measures,” the authors write.

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Islami F, Goding Sauer A, Miller KD, et al. Proportion and number of cancer cases and deaths attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors in the United States. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2017 Nov 21. doi:10.3322/caac.21440