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May 7, 2010 | 2 minute read

President’s Cancer Panel Overlooks Known Lifestyle Habits for Cancer Prevention

Yesterday, news of the President’s Cancer Panel’s report on environmental contaminants possibly leading to cancer splashed across all the major news outlets. The President’s Cancer Panel is an advisory group consisting of two scientists (normally three but one place is still empty).

In a letter to the President, the Panel writes that “the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated.” You can read the full report here.

Examining the link between environmental pollutants and cancer risk is important, and one that does need more research. But in writing a 240-page report, the Panel failed to mention basic lifestyle factors that research clearly shows can prevent the majority of cancer cases. Scientists estimate that about one-third of the most common cancers could be prevented by eating a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.

Tobacco use is a separate risk factor that is itself responsible for one-third of all cancer deaths. AICR’s 2009 report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, determined how patterns of diet, physical activity and weight affect the risk of different cancers. You can read a summary.

These are choices people can make today that will help lower their risk of cancer.

What do you think of the findings of the Panel’s report? Do you think cancer prevention policies should focus on healthy lifestyle habits, environmental contaminants, or both?

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