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What lifestyle changes could mean for cancer deaths

Today's news of a Harvard study on the impact healthy living could have on preventing cancer prompted us to take another look at the top 10 cancer killers in the U.S. in recent years, shown in the chart above.

No big surprise: Researchers wrote in JAMA Oncology that the biggest impact of healthier living would be on the biggest killer, lung cancer.

But not smoking is just the beginning -- preventing cancer also means (at least in this study) maintaining a healthy weight, consistent exercise and low alcohol intake.

For lung cancer, clean living cuts the risk by 85 percent for women and 90 percent for men, study authors reported. For colon cancer, it's 60 percent for women and 50 percent for men.

So, how healthy is the lifestyle they tested?

"A healthy lifestyle pattern was defined as never or past smoking, no or moderate alcohol drinking (1 drink or less a day for women, 2 drinks or less for men), BMI of at least 18.5 but lower than 27.5, and weekly aerobic physical activity of at least 75 vigorous-intensity or 150 moderate-intensity minutes. Participants meeting all 4 of these criteria made up the low-risk group; all others, the high-risk group,'' the authors wrote.

We all know that a lot of Americans smoke, weigh too much, drink too much and don't move enough. But how many of us can say we consistently meet all four healthy lifestyle criteria?