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For Immediate Release: August 29, 2012
Contact: Mya Nelson, m.nelson@aicr.org, 202-328-7744 x3047

Experts: 7 in 10 Endometrial Cancers Don’t Have to Happen

For Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, AICR Spotlights The Most Preventable Cancer

WASHINGTON, DC — September is National Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, and experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) are using the occasion to alert women that the most common gynecological cancer is also the most preventable.

Endometrial cancer – a disease of the uterus’ inner lining – strikes 47,000 women in the U.S. each year, according to the National Cancer Institute, and kills 8,000. But AICR estimates that an overwhelming majority of endometrial cancers – 70 percent, or almost 33,000 cases a year – are caused by carrying excess body fat and a lack of physical activity.

According to the AICR/WCRF report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, this gives endometrial cancer the distinction of being one of the world’s most preventable cancers (along with cancers of the skin and lung).

“The science is clear and convincing,” said AICR’s Alice Bender, MS RD. “Staying lean, avoiding the build-up of abdominal fat, and being active every day are powerfully protective against endometrial cancer.”

Carrying excess body fat produces a hormonal environment high in insulin, insulin-like growth factors and estrogens that may make cancer more likely, and contributes to a level of chronic inflammation that may encourage cancer growth as well, according to AICR. Research suggests that regular physical activity helps regulate hormone levels and reduce inflammation.

Not All Gynecological Cancers are the Same

Bender is careful to note that there is as yet insufficient evidence to conclude that other, less-common gynecological cancers – such as those of the ovary (22,000 cases/year) and cervix (12,000 cases/year) – are also linked to lifestyle factors like being overweight and not getting enough physical activity.

The major risk factors of ovarian cancer are age, reproductive history and family history, while the major risk factors for cervical cancer are the human papilloma virus (HPV), smoking and family history. Regular pap tests and the HPV vaccine can lower risk for cervical cancer.

Focus on the Factors You Can Change, Say Experts

“The message that emerges from the science on endometrial cancer – namely that simple, everyday changes can dramatically lower risk – is an empowering one,” said Bender, “and it lines up with what we’re learning about preventing many other cancers, including those of the colorectum, post-menopausal breast, esophagus, kidney, pancreas and gallbladder, as well as preventing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”

Bender notes that when it comes to cancer, there are no guarantees. But the science is unequivocal. “We know what we need to do to prevent 33,000 cases of endometrial cancer – and nearly 400,000 cases of cancer in general – every year,” said Bender. “The next step is to begin making the kind of small, positive adjustments to our daily routines – such as moving a little more every day – that, over time, can save lives.”


 

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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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