The American Institute for Cancer Research presented a comprehensive report on cancer prevention policy for a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill last month. The report concluded over 45 percent of colon cancer cases and 38 percent of breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented by making changes in our diet, physical activity and weight control. In 2006, a total of 15,918 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Iowa. Of that number, 1,858 were colon cancer and 2,156 were breast cancer.
“The best way to statistically reduce your chances of cancer is still to avoid smoking,” said Iowa Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) Iowans Fit for Life coordinator Dennis Haney. “But this report indicates a significant number of cancer cases could be prevented just by eating better, moving more and maintaining a healthier weight.”
According to the 2006-2007 Iowa Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), more than 80 percent of all adults did not eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables (at least five each day). In addition, 60 percent of adults did not participate in the recommended amount of physical activity, and nearly 65 percent of Iowans were considered overweight or obese.
In addition to improvements in diet and fitness, cancer prevention should include limiting sun exposure and using sunscreen; drinking alcohol only in moderation, if at all; and having regular health screenings such as mammograms, pap tests and colorectal cancer exams.
To learn more about how IDPH is working to reduce the number of cancer cases in Iowa, visit here. For more information about IDPH physical fitness and obesity control efforts, visit here.