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You May Be the Key to Cancer Prevention
Date:3/29/2008

Up to half of cancer deaths could be avoided with lifestyle changes, experts say,,

SATURDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Imagine therapies that could cut cancer deaths in half.

Well, these "breakthrough" treatments are here, according to a recent American Cancer Society report that said as many as 50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented with lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting screened for certain malignancies.

"Nearly half of all cancer is related to two things -- tobacco and obesity," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chief of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La. "That's something I don't think people truly grasp."

Dr. Neil Hayes, a medical oncologist specializing in lung and head and neck cancers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, concurred. "Most of my patients are smokers, so it's rare I see someone truly surprised by the diagnosis. But I don't think they fully think through the risk associated with smoking," he said.

Evaluating your risk of cancer, and taking steps to modify those risk factors within your control, could save your life.

Smoking is far and away the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths. In the United States, nearly one-third of all cancer deaths -- more than 170,000 Americans -- each year are related to tobacco use, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Yet, almost one in four American adults still uses tobacco. And, about 22 percent of teens are still lighting up.

"Not smoking is the single most important thing you can do to lower your risk of cancer," Brooks said.

Another important risk factor cited by the cancer society is the increasing girth of the average American. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and excess weight are likely at the root of as many as 188,277 cancer deaths annually, according to the ACS.

A recent New Eng
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