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How Potentially Modifiable Risk Factors Affect Cancer Incidence and Mortality

Contemporary information on the portion of cancers that could potentially be prevented is useful for setting priorities for cancer prevention and control programs.

Our Research Focus

Researchers at the ACS Cancer Disparity Research team estimate the proportion and number of cancer cases and deaths in the United States, nationally and at the state level (overall and by specific cancer type) that are attributable to major, potentially modifiable factors that can cause cancer. These modifiable risk factors include:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating red or processed meat, or both
  • Not eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Not consuming foods with the recommended amounts of dietary fiber and calcium
  • Not taking part in the recommended amount of physical activity
  • Exposing yourself to too much ultraviolet radiation, such as from excessive sun exposure and indoor tanning
  • Not taking precautionary measures to protect against cancer-associated infections

Recent Studies