Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. But experts say that if we made some lifestyle changes, we could actually reduce cancer rates by 50% or more. In essence, cancer is caused by lifestyle choices about half of the time.
The four things that would need to be changed to reduce cancer rates by 50% include: quitting smoking, moderating drinking, healthy weight maintenance and proper diet, and at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.
According to a study that was published in JAMA, adhering to these lifestyle restrictions could reduce cancer rates by as much as 70% on the high end and as little as 40% on the low end.
By gender, men could reduce or delay 67% of cancer deaths and women could decrease cancer mortality rates by as much as 59%.
The study was based upon lifestyle and health factors and how they relate to new cancer diagnoses.
Simple changes to diet and lifestyle could result in a decreased risk of lung, colorectal, ovarian, endometrial, breast and pancreatic cancer by as much as 90%.
"Primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control," the study noted.
Change may not take place overnight. About 17% of Americans are smokers, 38% of are considered obese and over 22% do not exercise regularly. What's more, about 6% of Americans are heavy drinkers, and 20% report they binge drink frequently.
"Considering the lack of diversity among the study population, the results may not be generalizable to other ethnic groups. As a society, we need to avoid procrastination induced by thoughts that chance drives all cancer risk or that new medical discoveries are needed to make gains against cancer," the study advised.
In short, eating a balanced diet, working out, moderating drinking and quitting smoking are the four best things that you can do to reduce your risk of cancer by a large margin. So much so, that leading doctors say they are more effective than any treatment regimen or medicine that could be prescribed after the fact.