How Much Cancer Can Be Prevented By a Healthy Lifestyle?

28 Sep

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you, and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

This month, we want to discuss a question sent by a reader of my new book, This is YOUR Do-Over: The Seven Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, And Getting A Second Chance at the Life You Want (shameless plug—you can order it at Amazon.)  You can send us questions anytime to, just put the words “Question for Dr. Mike Roizen to answer” in the subject line and I’ll try to get to it.

Q) Why Are People in Developed Countries Developing More Cancer and What Can I Do To Prevent Cancer in Myself?

A) The average North American eats over 130 pounds (~59 kg) of added sugars and syrups annually and consumes more than 60 pounds (~27 kg) of saturated fat-laden red meat. Plus, the average American household has more television sets than people! No wonder 70% of North Americans are overweight or obese and cancer is the second leading cause of death. A massive new study published in JAMA Oncology online really brings that last point home!

It reveals that 62% of tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer cases worldwide happen in developed countries, as do 78% of leukemia cases and 63% of breast cancer, 77% of stomach cancer, 86% of liver cancer, 85% of cervical cancer, 84% of esophageal cancer cases.

Clearly, a convenience-driven lifestyle that leads one to be overweight and inactive isn’t doing you any favors.

At least half of all cancers can be avoided if you maintain a healthy weight, get regular physical activity, and (of course) don’t smoke.  One study followed 500,000 Americans for over a decade and found adopting just those three cancer-fighting strategies reduced their risk for colon cancer by up to 48%.

It may be possible to cut your risk for cancer by up to 80-90% if you also manage stressful events more effectively, eat no added sugars or foods with saturated or trans fats, don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol, get appropriate cancer screenings, and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. (These were the findings of the Swedish Men’s study and the Nurse’s Health study in the United States.)

And if you’ve been making smart lifestyle choices and you are diagnosed with cancer (it can happen to even the most conscientious person), your chances for a good outcome skyrocket.

So, don’t let the phrase “developed countries” mean that’s where folks develop cancer! Instead, develop a plan to make your lifestyle a cancer fighter and follow it.

Young Dr. Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

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