Here’s some sobering news: The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) predicts more than 585,000 Americans will die of cancer in 2015. And half of those deaths could have been avoided with just a few lifestyle changes.
The 2014 edition of the AACR’s annual report—released earlier today—attributes about one-third of next year’s cancer deaths to tobacco use (that’s almost 200,000 people). Despite being more informed than ever about the dangers of smoking, nearly 800,000 Americans still pick up the habit every year, according to the AACR. And about another third of next year’s cancer deaths will stem from obesity (being overweight or obese has been linked to 7 different kinds of cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer), unhealthy eating habits, or a lack of physical activity.
It’s not just about preventing cancer; a healthier lifestyle can also give cancer patients a better prognosis, too, says the report. That means exercising regularly, making smart food choices, and always using sunscreen.
One bright spot in this new report: more cancer patients are surviving longer than ever before—it’s estimated that 4% of the US population falls into the “cancer survivor” group.
To speed up research, the AACR is urging Congress to increase the annual budgets for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.