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 266,120 33% 87,820
Colorectal 140,250 47% 65,918
Endometrial 63,230 59% 37,306
Esophageal 17,290 33% 5,706
Gallbladder 12,190 22% 2,682
Kidney 65,340 24% 15,682
Liver 42,220 30% 12,666
Lung 234,030 36% 84,251
Mouth, Pharyngeal & Laryngeal 44,320 63% 27,922
Ovarian 22,240 5% 1,112
Pancreatic 55,440 19% 10,534
Prostate (advanced) 21,410 11% 2,355
Stomach 26,240 15% 3,936

*Rounded, based on AICR/WRCF, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention 2009; Continuous Update Project reports; American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2018.


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.

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 Perspective and 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.