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May 14, 2014 | 3 minute read

Women’s Cancers: Reducing the Risk

It’s the middle of National Women’s Health Week, a time focused on raising awareness for improving women’s health.

The cancers that most often affect women include breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung, and ovarian. Screenings play an important role in prevention and/or early detection. And for each of these cancers, AICR research shows that what women weigh, eat, and how much they exercise plays a role in risk.

Breast Cancer

  • Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the United States.The majority of breast cancers occur postmenopausal.
  • For postmenopausal cancers, excess body fat, adult weight gain and alcohol drinks increase risk; breastfeeding and daily physical activity lower risk.
  • AICR estimates that 38 percent of breast cancers are preventable by being active and a healthy weight.

Ovarian Cancer

  • The most deadly gynecological cancer, ovarian cancer is often not diagnosed until its late stages.
  • For the first time, AICR research found that obesity links to increased risk for this cancer.
  • 5% of US ovarian cancers can be prevented by being a healthy weight.

Colorectal Cancer

  • Colorectal rates have dropped over the past decade, mainly attributed to increased screenings. It still remains the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
  • Excess body fat is one of the strongest factors that increases risk; abdominal fatness is also a cause.
  • Other factors that increase risk are processed meats and high amounts of red meat, and alcoholic drinks; factors that lower risk include foods with fiber, garlic, and milk, along with daily moderate physical activity
  • Half of US colorectal cancers can be prevented through diet, activity, and being a healthy weight.

Lung Cancer

  • This cancer is the leading cause of death among women – and men.
  • The single most important step you can take to prevent lung cancer is avoiding tobacco. Smoking and other tobacco use causes approximately 90 to 95 percent of US lung cancer cases every year.
  • Of the cancers not caused by tobacco, diets high in fruit could play a role in reducing risk.

Endometrial Cancer

  • Cancers in the endometrium begin in the uterus lining. This is one of the most preventable cancers by diet, weight and exercise.
  • Drinking coffee – both decaffeinated and caffeinated – reduces the risk, along with daily moderate activity.
  • Excess body fat and a high-glycemic-load diet increases risk
  • An estimated 59% of US endometrial cancers can be prevented by being active and a healthy weight.

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