Cancer risks could be lowered by up to forty percent through the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices, according to a new study.
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) researchers determined around 587,000 people living in Britain developed cancer over a five-year period, due to lifestyle choices, including excess consumption of alcohol and tobacco use.
Health care professionals are calling on the public to make healthier lifestyle choices, including consuming fewer preprocessed meats, losing weight, and taking part in exercise.
"There are more than 200 types of cancer each caused by a complex set of factors - involving both our genes and our lifestyles," Linda Bauld, an expert on cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, said.
Smoking tobacco is the most dangerous behavior named in the study, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all cancers examined - 314,600 cases. Poor diet, including eating too much red meat and not enough fruits and vegetables, was responsible for 144,800 cancer cases examined. Following these causes, excess weight and obesity were named in 88,100 patients, the next-leading cause of cancers. Alcohol was next on the CRUK list, responsible for 62,200 cancers, followed by 55,900 cases of excess UV radiation from sunlight. Lack of physical activity is believed to be the underlying cause of 16,500 cancer diagnosis examined in the study.
"An estimated 42% of cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to a combination of 14 major lifestyle and other factors. The proportion is higher in men (45%) than women (40%), mainly due to sex differences in smoking," Cancer Research UK reported.
December is a time of feasting and celebration for many people, which can involve consuming excess desserts and alcohol. Some people are also more likely to partake in tobacco consumption during the holidays or while drinking, adding to health risks during the holidays.
According to CRUK, if just one percent of smokers were to quit the habit, 3,000 cases of cancers would be prevented in Britain alone.
"Of course everyone enjoys some extra treats during the Christmas holidays so we don't want to ban mince pies and wine but it's a good time to think about taking up some healthy habits for 2015. Leading a healthy lifestyle can't guarantee someone won't get cancer but we can stack the odds in our favour by taking positive steps now that will help decrease our cancer risk in future," Max Parkin, a statistician from Queen Mary University of London, stated in a press release.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, followed by cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).