Not quite yet but there’s finally some good news on the health front. The American Cancer Society just released its annual statistics report about cancer, and the numbers are encouraging. In the past two decades, there’s been about a 20% drop in the overall risk of dying from cancer. African-American men still have some of the highest rates of cancer, but death from cancer also declined the most among middle-aged black men. In the past 20 years, their death rates have fallen by about 50%.
The report covers the period from 1991 to 2010. To put it in perspective, about 1.3 million fewer people have died from cancer in the past two decades than would have been expected if trends had remained unchanged since 1991. Breast, lung and colon cancers remain the top cancer diagnoses for women. A spokesman for the American Cancer Society calls the progress “good, even remarkable...” but notes that much work remains to be done. While middle-aged black men’s rates have been slashed in half in just two decades, their death rates are still much higher than among white men and other ethnicities.
“Further progress can be accelerated by applying existing cancer control knowledge across all segments of the population,” wrote investigators in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. That means doing things that are known to reduce one’s risk of developing cancer. It will come as no surprise to anyone who reads my posts that some of those things include: getting regular exercise, eating plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, cutting out processed meats, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding carcinogens, such as toxins that may be present in certain household products.
By buying organic, you also reduce your exposure to pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals. Also, drinking MORE than one unit of alcohol per day (for example one beer; one 6-ounce glass of wine; one shot of liquor) is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, so women should avoid drinking more than that amount daily.
Demark-Wahnefried W, Rock CL, Patrick K, Byers T. Lifestyle interventions to reduce cancer risk and improve outcomes. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jun 1;77(11):1573-8.
Rebecca Siegel, Jiemin Ma, Zhaohui Zou, Ahmedin Jemal. Cancer Statistics, 2014. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2014; DOI: 10.3322/caac.21208