"Behaviors such as poor diet choices, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption and unhealthy body weight could account for more than 20 percent of cancer cases, and could, therefore, be prevented with lifestyle modifications," said Lindsay Kohler, author of the review.
As part of their cancer prevention efforts, guidelines for cancer prevention have been established by a number of leading cancer organizations, including the American Cancer Society(ACS) and the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research.
Guidelines from the ACS include maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a physically active lifestyle, choosing a healthy diet based primarily on plant based foods and, if you drink, to consume no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
The new review showed that adherence to cancer prevention guidelines was associated with a 10-45 percent reduction in all cancer incidence and a 14-61 percent reduction in all cancer mortality. The study also revealed reductions in the incidence of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer, although the reported benefits varied widely.
"Often studies try to parse out one specific risk factor but in this review, we found that following an overall pattern of healthy behaviors, as outlined in the cancer prevention guidelines, may reduce your risk of getting or dying from cancer," said Kohler, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona's College of Public Health. "Family history and environmental factors also play a role in cancer incidence and mortality, so your risk will not be entirely reduced. However, following these recommendations will lead to healthier lives overall and in turn reduce the risk for many major diseases."