At Least Half of Cancers are Preventable
Cancer is on the rise among kids in the United States. It is slightly down in adults but cancer testing is also up for adults. But researchers also find that much of our cancer is preventable.
CDC research on cancer rates
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s report, “Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2008,” determined that overall cancer incidence for adults – especially adult men – is down slightly, but for kids and women, cancers are up.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Centers of Disease Control’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, found that between 2004 and 2008, all cancer incidence went down slightly for U.S. adults. This statistic, underscored by the mainstream media, doesn’t tell the whole story, however. All cancer incidence went down by an average of 0.6% per year for men between 2004 and 2008, but went up by 0.3% per year for women during that same period.
More importantly, cancer incidence for all cancers in children went up by 0.6% per year during the period.
A closer look at the data
A closer look at the data indicates that most of the decreases came from reductions in cancers that have been prevented either by early screenings or lower smoking rates. Early screenings account for drops in colon and rectum cancers – which went down by 2.6% per year in men and 2.1% in women – and breast cancer – which went down 1.1% per year in women. Lung cancers have also gone down – 1.9% per year in men and 0.3% in women – the result of a major government campaign to reduce smoking. Credit can also be given to lower levels of air pollution caused by reduced auto emissions throughout the U.S in the past few years.
At the same time, many cancers went up dramatically. These include thyroid cancer – up 5.5% per year in men and 6.6% in women – kidney cancer – up 3.3% per year in women and 4.1% in men – and liver cancer – up 3.6% per year in men and 3% in women. Other cancers that went up include melanoma, pancreas, uterine, myeloma and leukemia cancers.
For children, aged 0 to 19 years old, overall cancer incidence went up by 0.6% per year between 1999 and 2008, and went up by 0.5% annually for children 0 to 14 years old.
At least half of cancers are preventable
The researchers estimated that at least half of the nation’s cancer incidence is preventable. Most of this calculation comes from the fact that more cases of cancer are caused by either smoking or obesity. An estimated 198,000 annual cancer deaths are linked to smoking – a full one-third of all cancer deaths – while about 114,000 yearly cancer deaths are linked to obesity – about one-fifth of total cancer deaths.
Their research also indicated that 15% of children are overweight and another 16% are obese, and 29% of adults are overweight and 36% are obese.
This means that now 31% of U.S. children are either overweight or obese, and a shocking 70% of U.S. adults are now either overweight or obese.
The research did not calculate the number of cancers potentially caused by toxin exposure or poor dietary habits.
Eheman C, Henley SJ, Ballard-Barbash R, Jacobs EJ, Schymura MJ, Noone AM, Pan L, Anderson, RN, Fulton JE, Kohler BA, Jemal A, Ward E, Plescia M, Ries LAG, Edwards BK. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2008, featuring cancers associated with excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity.. CANCER; Published Early Online: March 28, 2012