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November 2020

Report Says Almost Half of All Cancer Deaths Could Be Prevented


Your future health is at least partly in your hands, particularly when it comes to cancer. According to a study from American Cancer Society (ACS) researchers, about 42% of cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths in the U.S. are linked to lifestyle risk factors—meaning they could be preventable.

The takeaway: What we do today can help defend us from cancer tomorrow. This includes what we eat, what we weigh, and how regularly we get screened for cancer.

Screenings can save lives

One way to protect yourself is through screening tests that can find cancers early, when they may be easier to treat. Some of the ACS recommendations include:

  • Yearly mammograms for women ages 45 to 54 to screen for breast cancer. Women ages 55 and older have the option to switch to getting a mammogram every other year or continue with annual screening.

  • Regular screenings for colorectal cancer in men and women beginning at age 45.

  • Discussing the benefits and limitations of prostate cancer screening with a healthcare provider. These conversations should start at age 50 for most men and age 45 for men at high risk.

  • Cervical cancer screening for women ages 25 to 65 every 5 years with a primary HPV test (an HPV test that is done by itself for screening).

Certain people need more frequent or additional screenings. Ask your provider what’s right for you.


A healthy lifestyle is key 

Besides scheduling regular screenings, you can reduce your risk of developing cancer by sticking to a healthy routine. Here’s what medical experts recommend:

  • Stay away from all forms of tobacco. Smoking causes up to 90% of lung cancer deaths. Also, avoid secondhand smoke.

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and veggies.

  • Make a habit of being active. Get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight.

  • Be mindful of the sun, which can cause skin cancer. Wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2020
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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