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Third Of Cancers Can Be Avoided By “˜Clean Living’

February 26, 2009

A team of international researchers said on Thursday that healthier living could prevent about a third of the most common cancers in rich countries and about a quarter in poorer ones, Reuters reported.

A new study which urged governments and individuals to do more to cut the number of global cancer deaths each year suggests that better diets, more exercise and controlling weight could also prevent more than 40 percent of colon and breast cancer cases in some countries.

It suggested simple measures like cycling to work and swapping fatty foods for fruit can make all the difference for many forms of cancers.

Michael Marmot, who led the study from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, said at the time of publication, roughly 11 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer and nearly eight million people die from cancer each year.

However, he said cancer is mostly preventable.

The figures did not take into account the impact of smoking, which alone accounts for about a third of cancers.

Twenty-three experts from around the world analyzed both the incidence of 12 common cancers and data on diet, exercise and weight to see how these factors contributed to kidney, mouth, lung, gallbladder and the other cancers.

The study found that healthier living would prevent 43 percent of colon cancer cases and 42 percent of breast cancer cases in Britain, and 45 percent of bowel cancer and 38 percent of breast cancer cases in the United States.

A similar study in 2007 showed how quickly people grow and what they eat are both significant causes of cancer.

The research recommended that people follow diets based on fruits, vegetables and whole grains and go easy on red meats, dairy products and fats.

In the U.S. alone, improving diet, exercise and weight would prevent more than a third of the 12 most common cancers, including stomach, womb (uterus), prostate, pancreas and esophagus tumors.

This amounted to 39 percent of the cancers in Britain, 30 percent in Brazil and 27 percent in China.

Marmot said the report shows that by making relatively straightforward changes, we could significantly reduce the number of cancer cases around the world.

“The evidence linking diet, physical activity, obesity and cancer has become stronger over the last decade and this report can play a part in people adopting healthier lifestyles,” said Professor Mike Richards, National Clinical Director for Cancer

“After not smoking, it is clear that diet, physical activity and weight are the most important things people can do to reduce their cancer risk.”

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