Preventability for diet, weight, physical activity

Updated estimates of cancer preventability - the population-attributable fraction or PAF% - through diet, activity and weight management. For the most common US cancers, close to one third of cases are preventable through a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.

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

Cancer Type New Cases Percentage Prevented *Number of Cases Prevented
Breast, female 252,710 33% 83,394
Colorectal 135,430 47% 63,652
Endometrial 61,380 59% 36,214
Esophageal 16,940 33% 5,590
Gallbladder 11,740 22% 2,583
Kidney 63,990 24% 15,358
Liver 40,710 30% 12,213
Lung 222,500 36% 80,100
Mouth, Pharyngeal & Laryngeal 43,570 63% 27,449
Ovarian 22,440 5% 1,122
Pancreatic 53,670 19% 10,197
Prostate (advanced) 20,976 11% 2,307
Stomach 28,000 15% 4,200
TOTAL PREVENTABLE (rounded)
    344,380

*Rounded, based on AICR/WRCF, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention 2009; Continuous Update Project reports; American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2017.

Methods

Preventability estimates are important to help policy-makers assess the impact of different approaches to reduce cancer risk.

AICR/WCRF preventability estimates are calculated using information on:

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

The methods used to calculate the estimates can be found 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 Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspectiveand its continuous updates.

These preventability figures are estimates; they are not precise values. They are likely underestimates, as only those cancers judged to have convincing or probable links to lifestyle factors are included.