NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 5, 2005

Most deaths arising from cancer could be prevented if Americans stopped smoking, exercised more frequently, ate healthier food, and underwent recommended cancer screenings, say observers.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) projects there will be about 570,000 cancer cases this year. According to the ACS:

  • Tobacco use will cause 168,140 cancer deaths in 2005.
  • Poor nutrition, physical inactivity, obesity and other lifestyle factors will lead to an estimated 190,090 cancer deaths this year.
  • As a result, a little more than 60 percent of cancer cases would be prevented.

Michael Thun, head of epidemiology for ACS, says that eliminating tobacco use "would eliminate about half of cancer deaths" and that helping people maintain a healthy body weight and exercise "would be another 10 percent."

Moreover, increasing colorectal screening and high-quality mammography and Pap (smears for cervical cancer) would contribute another fraction. It is very plausible that one could get a 50 percent reduction, says Thun.

Source: Maggie Fox, ?60% of Deaths from Cancer Are Preventable, Group Says,? Houston Chronicle, March 30, 2005.


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