Can We Prevent Pancreatic Cancer?
A recent article in the medical journal JAMA Oncology (May 19, 2016) by Mingyang Song, MD, ScD and Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD posed an interesting question: how many deaths from cancer (all cancers except skin, brain, lymphatic, and hematologic) can be prevented in the United States by lifestyle changes? To do this, they looked at what happened to a total of 89,571 women and 46,339 men in two large studies.
They found that a substantial cancer burden could be prevented with lifestyle modifications, and they concluded that “primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control.” The preventable factors that contribute most to cancer risk include cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, obesity and a lack of physical activity. Importantly, all of these have been shown to be risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
While we hunt for new early detection tests and new ways to treat pancreatic cancer, we should never forget that a substantial proportion of cancer cases and even more deaths might be prevented by quitting smoking, avoiding heavy alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy body weight (BMI between 18.5 and 27.5), and exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes or at a vigorous intensity for at least 75 minutes every week.