Almost half of cancer diagnoses in the U.S. are linked to preventable causes, with smoking, excess body weight and alcohol consumption the most common risk factors, according to a new study.
Based on federal data, researchers found that in 2014, 42 percent of all diagnosis and 45 percent of all deaths were attributed to preventive risk factors.
Researchers evaluated over 1.5 million cases of cancer and almost 600,000 cancer deaths to understand their link to some of the most risky lifestyle factors.
Lung and colorectal cancer had the highest number of cases and deaths related to preventable risk factors, with 184,970 cases of lung cancer and 132,960 deaths. There were 76,910 cases of colorectal cancer and 28,290 deaths.
Cigarette smoking was responsible for the highest proportion of cancer cases, the authors wrote, with 19 percent of cases and 28 percent related to tobacco products.
Being overweight was the second leading cause of diagnosis and death, at 7.8 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.
Alcohol consumption was related to 5.6 percent of cancer cases and 4 percent of deaths.
The study was published Monday in the journal Cancer, put out by the American Cancer Society.
The researchers stressed that their numbers are conservative, as the impact of modifiable risk factors are not completely understood or their full impact “firmly established.”
“Nevertheless,” they continued, “these findings underscore the vast potential for reducing cancer morbidity and mortality through broad and equitable implementation of known preventive measures.”