Scientists Identify Habits That Reduce Cancer Risk by One-Third

Lifestyle factors are linked to a third of deaths caused by 20 types of cancer. Abandoning just a few harmful habits could significantly reduce the mortality from cancerous diseases, researchers claim.

Scientists from the University of São Paulo, in collaboration with a team from Harvard, conducted a study among the Brazilian population and proved that healthy habits help to avoid 27% of cancer cases.

“The most striking conclusion of our study is the information about the number of cancer cases that could be avoided by combating harmful habits,” says co-author of the study, Leandro Rezende.

The research showed that lifestyle factors and harmful habits, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, improper nutrition, and lack of physical activity, provoke about 115,000 annual cases of cancer development in Brazil. This accounts for 27% of all cases, with mortality from these causes estimated at 63,000 cases.

For instance, mortality from laryngeal, oropharyngeal, esophageal, and colorectal tumors could be halved by lifestyle corrections.

What Helps Best

Scientists plan to use the findings in practice to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Understanding that an ideal scenario is unlikely to be possible, the team evaluated the potential consequences of realistic preventive measures that could be achieved. Such a likely scenario included reducing alcohol consumption to less than 50 g per day, reducing body mass index, consuming at least 200-400 mg of dietary calcium per day, and reducing tobacco use by a third. According to estimates, these measures could prevent about 20,000 cases of cancer annually. These are not high figures, but such preventive tools do not require massive intervention from authorities or investments.

According to statistics, in Brazil, smoking is the leading cause of cancer cases (67,000 cases, of which 40,000 are fatal). This is followed by a high body mass index (21,000 cases and 12,000 deaths). Unbalanced nutrition, lack of physical activity, and alcohol abuse share the third place.

Maintaining a healthy diet in today’s lifestyle is quite challenging, especially against the backdrop of the widespread use of harmful food additives in products. Scientists from Australia assessed the harm of a popular food additive and proved that it could provoke cancer.

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