Cancer can be caused by a variety of factors and may develop over a number of years. Some risk factors can be controlled. Choosing the right health behaviors and preventing exposure to certain environmental risk factors can help prevent the development of cancer. For this reason, it is important to follow national trends data to monitor the reduction of these risk factors. This section focuses on national trends data from three major groups of risk factors: Behavioral, Environmental, and Policy/Regulatory.
Smoking, poor diet quality, and physical inactivity are just some of the human behaviors that have been linked to the development of many common cancers.
Smoking causes about 30% of all U.S. deaths from cancer. Avoiding tobacco use is the single most important step Americans can take to reduce the cancer burden in this country.
Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight
Considerable evidence indicates that behavioral factors related to energy balance—such as diet and physical activity—as well as body weight that indicates the state of energy balance are known risk factors for many chronic diseases and conditions, including several forms of cancer. These combined factors may be the most significant, avoidable causes of cancer in the non-smoking population. Poor diet, physical inactivity, and overweight/obesity may account for about 25–30% of several of the major cancers in the United States.
The number of new cases of melanoma has increased between 1975 and 2008, with an estimated number of 76,250 new cases in 2012.
Certain chemicals, biological agents, toxins, industry factors, etc., are associated with the development of cancer. In this section, national trends data associated with environmental exposures and their relationship to cancer are reported. The environmental measures highlighted in this report were chosen based on the availability of national trends data and their inclusion in the Healthy People 2020 Report.
Secondhand smoke which is also known as environmental tobacco smoke is continuing to be a leading environmental hazard. An expanded chapter on Secondhand smoke is presented in this year’s report update.
Pesticides and dioxins were reported in the Cancer Trends Progress Report – 2009/2010 Update. Both exposures again appear in this update, with a special focus on pesticides for which new data have been presented