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News » Filed under: Prevention/Early Detection

ACS Report: Collaboration Key to Cancer Prevention Efforts

Article date: April 19, 2012

By Stacy Simon

A report from the American Cancer Society urges government agencies, private companies, nonprofit organizations, health care providers, policy makers, and the American public to work together to increase the number of people who adopt behaviors that lower cancer risk. The 2012 report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures (CPED), says individual health behaviors are strongly influenced by social, economic, and legislative factors.

Vilma Cokkinides, PhD, co-author of the report, said, “For example, the price and availability of healthy foods, the incentives and opportunities for regular physical activity in schools and communities, the content of advertising, and the availability of insurance coverage for screening tests and treatment for tobacco addiction all influence individual choices.”

Behaviors that are known to lower cancer risk include avoiding tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and getting recommended screenings and vaccinations.

Tobacco use

  • The report estimates that 19.3% of adults smoked cigarettes in 2010, the latest year for which there is data. This represents a slight overall decline from 2005 to 2010, but does not represent a decline for all subgroups within the population.
  • In 2009, 19.5% of high school students reported current cigarette smoking. Some more recent surveys found that smoking declined significantly among teen student smokers between 2010 and 2011.
  • A report by the Society’s advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), found that passing comprehensive smoke-free laws by states currently without such laws could save $1.32 billion in treatment costs over 5 years and result in 624,000 fewer deaths.

Obesity, physical activity, and nutrition

  • After tobacco use, the major risk factors for cancer are obesity, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits. The American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention stress the importance of public, private, and community organizations working together to encourage healthy eating and physical activity levels. That can include offering healthier food choices in schools, worksites, and communities, and providing safe, enjoyable, and accessible environments for physical activity in schools and for transportation and recreation in communities.
  • Currently, an estimated 18% of adolescents and 35.7% of adults are obese. Increasing rates of obesity observed since the early 1980s appear to have slowed or leveled off since 2003.
  • In 2010, more than 20% of adults in all states were obese; at 34.6%, Mississippi had the highest obesity prevalence.

Screenings and vaccinations

  • Getting recommended screenings and vaccinations can prevent some types of cancer. Screening can also help detect cancer at an earlier stage when it’s easier to treat. However, the report says that many Americans don’t get all the screenings they should, especially those who are uninsured or under-insured, recent immigrants, and those with low education and low socioeconomic status.
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is recommended for adolescent girls to prevent most types of cervical cancer. The number of 13- to 17-year-old girls who got the first shot in the series increased from 25% in 2007 to 48.7% in 2010. One-third got all 3 shots.
  • In 2010, 76.4% of adult women reported having a Pap test in the past three years. But women who were uninsured, recent immigrants, and those with low education were much less likely to have the test.
  • Mammography usage has not increased since 2000. In 2010, 66.5% of women 40 years of age and older reported getting a mammogram in the past year. Only 31.5% of women without health insurance were screened.
  • In 2010, 59.1% of Americans 50 years of age and older were up to date on recommended colon cancer screenings.

The American Cancer Society has published the CPED report every year since 1992 as a resource to strengthen cancer prevention and early detection efforts at the local, state, and national levels.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please contact permissionrequest@cancer.org.

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