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By The Numbers

How Much – and What Kind – of Cancers are Preventable?

The AICR policy report sought to determine how much cancer could be prevented through diet, physical activity and weight management.

Estimated Cases of US Cancers Preventable per Year
by Diet, Activity, and Weight Management

Cancer TypeNew CasesPercentage Prevented*Number of Cases Prevented
Breast, female 235,030 38% 89,311
Prostate 233,000 11% 25,630
Gallbladder 10,650 21% 2,237
Endometrial 52,630 59% 31,052
Esophageal 18,170 69% 12,537
Colorectal 136,830 50% 68,415
Pancreatic 46,420 19% 8,820
Mouth, Pharyngeal & Laryngeal 38,960 63% 24,545
Kidney 63,920 24% 15,341
Liver 33,190 15% 4,979
Stomach 22,220 47% 10,443
Lung 224,210 36% 80,716
TOTAL PREVENTABLE     374,025

*Estimated, based on: AICR/WRCF, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention 2009; Continuous Update Project reports; Rebecca Siegel et al. “Cancer statistics, 2014.” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians Volume 64, January/February 2014.

Preventability estimates were calculated using information on:

  • Cancer risk associated with lifestyle factor
  • Prevalence of low, moderate and high levels/consumption of lifestyle factor in each country
  • Incidence of different cancers in each country

You can read the full methodology used to calculate the estimates in Appendix A of the Policy Report.

Briefly: Estimates were made for lifestyle factors judged to be convincing or probable modifiers of cancer risk in the report and its continuous updates, with a few exceptions; thus 12 cancers were included.

Highest versus lowest risk estimates were used for cancer risk. One research study (ideally large and recent) was chosen from those collected as part of the 2007 report and its continuous updates, where the size of effect was representative of all studies. Information on prevalence of lifestyle factors was obtained from national surveys. These two pieces of information were used to estimate preventability for each lifestyle factor.

Colorectal cancer site in context

Find out what the science says about how to help prevent these and other specific cancers.

Or visit our Reducing Your Risk section to start making the small, everyday changes that protect against many cancers.

Published on February 11, 2014

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