Another study proves that following a healthy lifestyle significantly reduces the chances of a person being diagnosed with cancer or dying because of the disease.
A large-scale study was performed in the U.S. by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. Two groups were examined along their lifestyle patterns and the occurrence of any type of cancer.
They determined a set of healthy habits that made people less likely to develop the disease, such as not smoking, consuming little to no alcohol, average body mass index and more than one hour of exercise per week.
Behind the study of healthy habits
Many factors are known to influence the appearance of cancer. The existence of these factors means that cancer is indeed preventable. The best way to handle diseases is to prevent them rather than to rely on treatment. A case cited by the research paper is the appearance of scrotal cancer among “chimney boys” in Britain along the 17 century. The practice was banned but the cause of the development of cancer was not identified. It turns out that chimney boys were exposed to coal tar, a very harmful carcinogen.
Researchers recruited a group of 89,571 women and 46,399 men. They identified 73,040 women and 46,399 men as high-risk of developing some variation of cancer. The low-risk group included individuals who had accomplished the mentioned healthy habits of not smoking, not drinking and performing regular exercise.
The results were compared and weighed against the population of the United States while taking into account the incidence of cancer-related deaths that could have been prevented by changing harmful habits for healthy ones before diagnosis. Data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), Harvard cohorts and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) was used where 9 out of 10 lung cancer fatal victims were due to smoking. The high-risk individuals had around 80 percent of lung cancer risk, while the data from the U.S. population reached a concerning 85 percent.
Prevention or treatment?
Almost half of the deaths and 2 out of 5 cancer diagnoses could have been prevented through simple and beneficial lifestyle changes. Having a conscious intention of reducing the risk of cancer through a healthy lifestyle was determined to be of great help towards preventing the disease.
Researchers suggest that there should be a broader effort toward preventing cancer. Community support and advice can often help towards reducing the incidence of cancerous disease. They suggested that consultation from physicians proved to be very effective towards patient action in reducing the risk of developing cancer.
Procrastination on applying the results was another issue addressed by the researchers, since efforts in prevention will yield the best results in improving the lifestyles of everyone at risk. Although there are cigarette taxes, researchers propose further policies that lean towards providing Americans with healthier lifestyle options rather than just settling with the products they find and that turn out to be harmful to them, oftentimes without even being aware of the issue.
Source: JAMA Oncology