We’ll start with the bad. An estimated 585,720 Americans will die from cancer in 2015, amounting to a quarter of the yearly deaths in the country. Cancer cases are also expected to grow by 33% over the next 20 years, topping off at 2.4 million. Finally, more than half of all diagnosed cases can be attributed to preventable causes.
Now for the good news, which is exactly that. More than half of cancer cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes, according to the AACR.
The report doesn’t cite any groundbreaking ways to prevent cancer – things like smoking cessation, eating healthy, exercising, and avoiding tanning beds – but it does give powerful numbers to show just how much control many of us can have in preventing the disease.
Nearly 33% of cancer diagnoses are caused or related to tobacco use, 20% come from being overweight or obese, and another 5% each from unhealthy diet and inactivity.
As the Atlantic reports, cancer caused from smoking is on the decline as fewer of us light up, but there’s been a surge in cancer related to gaining weight. “It would appear, then, that diet and exercise are nearly as important as not smoking when it comes to preventing cancer,” the article says.
The AACR recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, including two sessions in the gym to build muscle mass.
Cancer can strike anyone, even the healthiest of us, but while the report illuminates scientific advances toward a cure, it also offers compelling evidence on how much control we actually have in prevention – and that starts in the gym and in the kitchen.