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Healthier Lifestyles May Prevent 340,000 U.S. Cancers a Year: Study

THURSDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- About 340,000 cancer cases in the United States could be prevented each year if more Americans ate a healthy diet, got regular exercise and limited their alcohol intake, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

These types of lifestyle changes could lead to significant reductions in particularly common cancers such as breast (38 percent fewer cases per year), stomach (47 percent fewer) and colon (45 percent fewer).

The research about how a healthy lifestyle can reduce cancer risk was released Feb. 3 to mark World Cancer Day. The WCRF said its findings are supported by the World Health Organization's new Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, a report that says that regular physical activity can prevent many diseases, including breast and colon cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

"Physical activity is recommended for people of all ages as a means to reduce risks for certain types of cancers and other non-communicable diseases," Dr. Tim Armstrong, of WHO's Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, said in a WCRF news release.

"In order to improve their health and prevent several diseases, adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity throughout the week. This can be achieved by simply walking 30 minutes five times per week or by cycling to work daily," he advised.

Other healthy lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of cancer include quitting smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and preventing cancer-causing infections, the WCRF said.

Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Each year, 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million die from the disease. But 30 percent to 40 percent of cancers can be prevented and one-third can be cured through early diagnosis and treatment, according to the WCRF.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer prevention.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: World Cancer Research Fund, news release, Feb. 3, 2011

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