Leading a healthy lifestyle is the key to preventing different types of cancer. A recent collective review of numerous cancer preventive studies carried out by Lindsay N Kohler, a doctoral cancer epidemiology researcher at the University of Arizona, concluded that cancer can be avoided if a healthy lifestyle is practiced.

Evidence shows the risk of developing cancer falls by 45% if a person follows a specific lifestyle which includes good nutrition and regular exercise. Likewise, it was found people following cancer preventive guidelines, which include diet, weight management and physical activity recommendations had reduced their risk of dying from cancer by 61%. Specifically cancer types such as breast cancer, endometrial cancer and colon cancer can be evaded by following a regime aimed at promoting fitness and wellness.

“Overall, we saw there is quite a reduction in getting cancer or dying from cancer if you follow [cancer-prevention] guidelines,” said Kohler.

Cancer is the second-most common cause of death in the US with 1 in 4 individuals dying from different cancers. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, 20% of cancer cases in the US occur due to obesity, physical inactivity, excess alcohol, consumption, poor nutrition and smoking. In 2016 more than 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be expected to be diagnosed. Similarly more than 595,690 Americans, which is equal to 1,630 people per day, are expected to die from cancer in 2016.

The aim of the review was to determine if following official cancer preventive guidelines has any association with lowering cancer incidence and mortality. The result of the review which was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, was based on 12 cancer study results generated from numerous databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar and Cochrane Reviews.

Cancer risk was seen to decrease as commitment to cancer preventive measures increased. For instance, a healthy lifestyle was successful in preventing breast cancer rates by 19% to 60%, while rate of endometrial cancer fell by 23% to 60%. A state of wellness was also found to decrease the rate of colorectal cancer incidence in both men and women by 27% to 52%. Though a good lifestyle was found not to have any influence over rates of lung, ovarian or prostate cancer.

“An overall pattern of healthy behaviors, as outlined in the cancer prevention guidelines, may reduce your risk of getting or dying from cancer, although the risk is not totally eliminated,” said Kohler.

It is believed cancer occurs as a result of both internal and external factors. Internal factors include genes, mutations, hormones, and immune conditions, while external factors are associated with lifestyle and environment. However a very small proportion of cancers are caused by genetic factors. Even many familial cases of cancer are now thought to arise as a result of interplay between genes and lifestyle.

In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, cancer preventive guidelines also preach eating more whole grains over refined grains, lowering consumption of red and processed meat, eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding direct contact with sunlight and getting more sleep every day.

Diet has been directly linked to cancer occurrence and death. The involvement of diet in causing cancer varies greatly and depends on the type of cancer. It is believed the ingestion of carcinogens, e.g., nitrates, nitrosamines, pesticides and dioxins through food, and the increasing prevalence of obesity in American society leads to mutations which develop cancer. Diet and obesity have also been linked with the formation of several cancers such as colorectal, prostate, bladder, breast, gastric, pancreatic and oral cancers.

In addition to the presence of saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids and refined sugars, red meat is also associated with the induction of carcinogenesis. Carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines are produced when red meat is cooked. Similarly red meat also produces harmful carbon compounds when it is fried. To top it off, the nitrites and nitrates added to red meat through additives are also carcinogenic in nature. Even refined flour induces inflammatory processes which damage cells, leading to development of cancerous cells.

The excessive release and disturbance in levels of neurochemicals such as growth factors, insulin, leptin, steroids and inflammatory hormones, due to increase in fat cells, i.e., adipose cells, are believed to be the precursors for development of cancer.

“Epidemiology studies have indicated that in obese patients, progression of prostate, breast, colorectal, and other cancers is more aggressive. Adipose (fat) tissue, expanding and undergoing inflammation in obesity, directly fuels tumor growth,” said Dr Mikhail Kolonin, Director at Center for Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases, University of Texas.

The researchers believe cancers occurrenc associated with obesity can be particularly avoided through a healthy and hearty life ideology.

“The most important work as a result of this study is getting the word out about the importance of following these recommendations and helping people find ways to incorporate healthful changes into their lives,” said Kohler.