The New York Times Sunday Magazine featured an article on May 15th detailing how “researchers have revolutionized our…prospects for treating” cancer. The following week, the Los Angeles Times carried an advertisement by the City of Hope detailing its “breakthroughs…on destroy[ing] cancer” and helping develop “the world’s most widely used cancer drugs.”
Alongside that ad was a news story based on a recent study that offered an alternative approach to battling cancer. The study’s conclusion: “The most effective way to fight cancer is….prevention.” The study’s lead authors wrote, “Primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control.”
The study outlined four simple lifestyle changes that it says dramatically reduce cancer deaths. The four preventive steps are (1) stop smoking, (2) reduce drinking, (3) maintain a healthy weight, and (4) exercise at least 150 minutes a week.
Those measures, says the study, could prevent or forestall half of the 600,000 deaths caused by cancer each year. And they could also reduce by up to 70% the number of Americans (1.6 million) diagnosed with cancer each year.
The study says women who follow the above mentioned lifestyle measures could reduce their risk of lung cancer by 85%, colorectal cancer by 60%, pancreatic cancer by 53%, endometrial cancer by 37%, ovarian cancer by 34% and breast cancer by 15%
It says men following the lifestyle measures could reduce their risk of bladder cancer by 62%, prostate cancer by 40%, and kidney cancer by 36%.
The study obliterates the so-called “bad luck hypothesis.” That hypothesis attributes as many as 80% of cancers to factors beyond an individual’s control, like family history. Basically, the new research says BAD BEHAVIOR trumps BAD LUCK as the main cause of cancer.
This study arrives with a five-star rating. It is based on two large, long-running studies of health professionals: the renowned Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-up Study. The researchers were from Harvard. And the study was published in the American Medical Associatio Oncology Journal. You can’t get more authoritative than that.
In my next post, I’ll delve more deeply into the study’s four lifestyle proposals.