Health news: Half of cancers are preventable

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- It is a single word that can be devastating to hear: cancer. But a new study is offering some encouraging news in the fight against this disease.

That news is that we can reduce the risk of cancer, and possibly cut the number of cases in half, by making some lifestyle changes.

Dr. David Boyd, Director of Wellness and Prevention at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Goodyear, says three things alone can cut your cancer risk significantly. "So, the top three things I would say, is either quit smoking, or don't smoke ideally. Secondly, maintain proper body weight. And third, make sure you get proper exercise."

And that advice is something backed up by a new study, which says that one-half of all cancers can be preventable with simple lifestyle changes.

Top on the list is cutting out use of tobacco.

"Actually, you have a 30 percent increased risk of all cancers with smoking," says Dr. Boyd.

And the risk includes people subjected to secondhand smoke as well. “And largely, what is very important, is just bringing that to the attention of kids to make sure they don't develop a smoking habit in the first place," he says.

Obesity causes almost as many cancers as smoking. "Maintaining a proper body weight  is incredibly important. And of course, in doing so, making sure you're eating a healthy diet, low in processed foods."

And it's not just overindulgence that's a problem. A lack of exercise is responsible for five percent of all cancers. "So ideally, 30 minutes a day of something that makes your heart pump and makes you sweat," Dr. Boyd recommends.

Dr. Boyd says it is also important you have proper screenings, mammograms and colonoscopies at the appropriate age.

They are lifestyle changes to be sure, but Dr. Boyd says they are changes that put the power to fight off cancer in your hands. "When you consider that 50 percent of cancers are avoidable based on lifestyle modifications, I mean, what more do you need to make sure you go out and live a healthy life, and do the right thing?"