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Forty Percent of Cancer is Preventable

February is National Cancer Prevention Month

Cancer is a terrible disease no matter the month. According to the National Cancer Institute1 the number of new cases is 454.8 per 100,000 and mortality is 171.2 per 100,000—equaling an estimated 595,690 deaths in 2016. The hopeful news is that, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research,2 nearly half of all cancers are preventable.

Fortunately, many of the steps to prevent cancer have already been identified by the American Association for Cancer Research—in an article titled “Cancer Prevention During Early Adulthood: Highlights From a Meeting of Experts,”3 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine—and by the CDC,4 which identified the following basic lifestyle actions that can help prevent many cancers:

  • Avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Protect skin from UV rays
  • Choosing a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight. This includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, foods low in saturated fats5 and getting regular physical exercise.6
salad and runner

Knowing these basic recommendations is helpful, but physicians themselves indicated (JAMA)6 that their knowledge and skill training gaps inhibited their ability to coach patients to make these and other important lifestyle changes. To address this gap, ACPM and ACLM teamed to create the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program. This 30-hour/CME evidence-based program covers the fundamentals of Lifestyle Medicine and teaches physicians how to write nutrition, physical activity, and sleep prescriptions and better coach patients to make the needed behavior changes.

As we recognize National Cancer Prevention Month this February, we encourage health care professionals to help patients make the lifestyle changes that will add not just years to life, but life to years. See ACPM’s Cancer Prevention page for more information and resources.

REFERENCES
  1. Understanding Cancer, Cancer Statistics. National Cancer Institute. Updated March 22, 2017. Accessed February 2018.
  2. Take Control of your Cancer Risk: Nearly Fifty Percent of common Cancers are Preventable. American Institute for Cancer Research. February 1, 2018.
  3. Cancer Prevention During Early Adulthood: Highlights From a Meeting of Experts. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. September 2017. Volume 53, Issue 3, Supplement 1, Pages S5–S13.
  4. Lower Cancer Risk with Healthy Choices. Division of Cancer Prevention and Control,  CDC. Updated February 1, 2018. Accessed February 2018.
  5. Healthy Eating for Healthy Weight. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. Updated September 8, 2016. Accessed February 2018.
  6. Physical Activity for a Health Weight. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. May 15, 2015. Accessed February 2018.
  7. Physician Competencies for Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine. Liana Lianov, Mark Johnson. JAMA. 2010;304(2):202-203.
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