1/3 of cancers can be prevented

March 2, 2009 1:52:51 PM PST
A new study from the World Cancer Research Fund says one-third of all cancers are preventable.

And that's not counting the cancers that could be prevented through not smoking.

The report shows eating healthy, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent some breast, pancreatic, liver and many more forms of cancer.

The researchers urge governments to make changes... Such as providing more accessible healthy food options, stop promoting sugary drinks, and make communities more walkable.

The American Cancer Society concurs with the report, but says it will take global changes to achieve these goals rather than placing all the emphasis on the responsibility of individuals to shape up.

Still, personal responsibility does matter. "This new report shows that about one third of the most common cancers we see in the United States could be prevented by individuals making choices to lower their cancer risk," said one of the report's co-authors, Tim Byers, MD, MPH, interim director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and associate dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. "This figure does not include smoking, which alone accounts for about a third of cancers."

Among the recommendations in the report:

Governments should require widespread walking and cycling routes to encourage physical activity.

Industry should give a higher priority for goods and services that encourage people to be active, particularly young people.

The food and drinks industry should make public health an explicit priority at all stages of production.

Schools should actively encourage physical activity and provide healthy food for children.

Schools, workplaces and institutions should not have unhealthy foods available in vending machines.

Health professionals should take a lead in giving the public information about public health, including cancer prevention.

People should use independent nutrition guides and food labels to make sure the food they buy for their family is healthy.

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