Cancer prevention

Cancer prevention is defined as active measures to decrease the risk of cancer.[1] The vast majority of cancer cases are due to environmental risk factors, and many, but not all, of these environmental factors are controllable lifestyle choices. Thus, cancer is considered a largely preventable disease.[2] Greater than 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented by avoiding risk factors including: tobacco, overweight / obesity, an insufficient diet, physical inactivity, alcohol, sexually transmitted infections, and air pollution.[3] Not all environmental causes are controllable, such as naturally occurring background radiation, and other cases of cancer are caused through hereditary genetic disorders, and thus it is not possible to prevent all cases of cancer.

The concerned

File:Malignant neoplasms world map - Death - WHO2004.svg
Death rate adjusted for age for malignant cancer per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.[4]
  no data
  ≤ 55
  ≥ 305

Anyone can get cancer,[5] the age is one of the biggest factors that can make a person more likely to get cancer: 3 out of 4 cancers are found in people aged 55 or older.

But there are many other factors that affect cancer risk and some of them can be changed. It is only natural that people are looking for more ways to prevent cancer.


Main article: Diet and cancer
File:Make healthy choices poster.jpg
This advertisement advises a healthy diet to prevent cancer.

While many dietary recommendations have been proposed to reduce the risk of cancer, the evidence to support them is not definitive.[6][7] The primary dietary factors that increase risk are obesity and alcohol consumption; with a diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in red meat being implicated but not confirmed.[8][9] A 2014 meta-analysis did not find a relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer.[10] Consumption of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of liver cancer.[11] Studies have linked excessive consumption of red or processed meat to an increased risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer, a phenomenon which could be due to the presence of carcinogens in meats cooked at high temperatures.[12][13] Dietary recommendations for cancer prevention typically include an emphasis on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish, and an avoidance of processed and red meat (beef, pork, lamb), animal fats, and refined carbohydrates.[6][7]


The concept that medications can be used to prevent cancer is attractive, and evidence supports their use in a few defined circumstances.[14] In the general population, NSAIDs reduce the risk of colorectal cancer however due to the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal side effects they cause overall harm when used for prevention.[15] Aspirin has been found to reduce the risk of death from cancer by about 7%.[16] COX-2 inhibitor may decrease the rate of polyp formation in people with familial adenomatous polyposis however are associated with the same adverse effects as NSAIDs.[17] Daily use of tamoxifen or raloxifene has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in high-risk women.[18] The benefit verses harm for 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor such as finasteride is not clear.[19]

Vitamins have not been found to be effective at preventing cancer,[20] although low blood levels of vitamin D are correlated with increased cancer risk.[21][22] Whether this relationship is causal and vitamin D supplementation is protective is not determined.[23] Beta-Carotene supplementation has been found to increase lung cancer rates in those who are high risk.[24] Folic acid supplementation has not been found effective in preventing colon cancer and may increase colon polyps.[25] It is unclear if selenium supplementation has an effect.[26]


Vaccines have been developed that prevent infection by some carcinogenic viruses.[27] Human papillomavirus vaccine (Gardasil and Cervarix) decreases the risk of developing cervical cancer.[27] The hepatitis B vaccine prevents infection with hepatitis B virus and thus decreases the risk of liver cancer.[27] The administration of human papillomavirus and hepatitis B vaccinations is recommended when resources allow.[28]


  1. ^ "Cancer prevention: 7 steps to reduce your risk". Mayo Clinic. 27 September 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  2. ^ Danaei G, Vander Hoorn S, Lopez AD, Murray CJ, Ezzati M; Vander Hoorn; Lopez; Murray; Ezzati; Comparative Risk Assessment collaborating group (Cancers) (2005). "Causes of cancer in the world: comparative risk assessment of nine behavioural and environmental risk factors". Lancet 366 (9499): 1784–93. PMID 16298215. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67725-2. 
  3. ^ "Cancer". World Health Organization. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "WHO Disease and injury country estimates". World Health Organization. 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2009. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Kushi LH, Doyle C, McCullough M et al. (2012). "American Cancer Society Guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity". CA Cancer J Clin 62 (1): 30–67. PMID 22237782. doi:10.3322/caac.20140. 
  7. ^ a b Wicki A, Hagmann, J; Hagmann (September 2011). "Diet and cancer". Swiss medical weekly 141: w13250. PMID 21904992. doi:10.4414/smw.2011.13250. 
  8. ^ Cappellani A, Di Vita M, Zanghi A, Cavallaro A, Piccolo G, Veroux M, Berretta M, Malaguarnera M, Canzonieri V, Lo Menzo E; Di Vita; Zanghi; Cavallaro; Piccolo; Veroux; Berretta; Malaguarnera; Canzonieri; Lo Menzo (2012). "Diet, obesity and breast cancer: an update". Front Biosci (Schol Ed) 4: 90–108. PMID 22202045. 
  9. ^ Key TJ (January 2011). "Fruit and vegetables and cancer risk". Br. J. Cancer 104 (1): 6–11. PMC 3039795. PMID 21119663. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6606032. 
  10. ^ Wang, X; Ouyang, Y; Liu, J; Zhu, M; Zhao, G; Bao, W; Hu, FB (29 July 2014). "Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies". BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 349: g4490. PMC 4115152. PMID 25073782. doi:10.1136/bmj.g4490. 
  11. ^ Larsson SC, Wolk A; Wolk (May 2007). "Coffee consumption and risk of liver cancer: a meta-analysis". Gastroenterology 132 (5): 1740–5. PMID 17484871. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2007.03.044. 
  12. ^ Zheng W, Lee SA; Lee (2009). "Well-done meat intake, heterocyclic amine exposure, and cancer risk". Nutr Cancer 61 (4): 437–46. PMC 2769029. PMID 19838915. doi:10.1080/01635580802710741. 
  13. ^ Ferguson LR (February 2010). "Meat and cancer". Meat Sci. 84 (2): 308–13. PMID 20374790. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2009.06.032. 
  14. ^ Holland Chp.33
  15. ^ Rostom A, Dubé C, Lewin G, Tsertsvadze A, Barrowman N, Code C, Sampson M, Moher D; Dubé; Lewin; Tsertsvadze; Barrowman; Code; Sampson; Moher; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (March 2007). "Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors for primary prevention of colorectal cancer: a systematic review prepared for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force". Annals of Internal Medicine 146 (5): 376–89. PMID 17339623. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-146-5-200703060-00010. 
  16. ^ Rothwell PM, Fowkes FG, Belch JF, Ogawa H, Warlow CP, Meade TW; Fowkes; Belch; Ogawa; Warlow; Meade (January 2011). "Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials". Lancet 377 (9759): 31–41. PMID 21144578. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62110-1. 
  17. ^ Cooper K, Squires H, Carroll C, Papaioannou D, Booth A, Logan RF, Maguire C, Hind D, Tappenden P; Squires; Carroll; Papaioannou; Booth; Logan; Maguire; Hind; Tappenden (June 2010). "Chemoprevention of colorectal cancer: systematic review and economic evaluation". Health Technol Assess 14 (32): 1–206. PMID 20594533. doi:10.3310/hta14320. 
  18. ^ Thomsen A, Kolesar JM; Kolesar (December 2008). "Chemoprevention of breast cancer". Am J Health Syst Pharm 65 (23): 2221–8. PMID 19020189. doi:10.2146/ajhp070663. 
  19. ^ Wilt TJ, MacDonald R, Hagerty K, Schellhammer P, Kramer BS; MacDonald; Hagerty; Schellhammer; Kramer (2008). Wilt, Timothy J, ed. "Five-alpha-reductase Inhibitors for prostate cancer prevention". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD007091. PMID 18425978. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007091. 
  20. ^ "Vitamins and minerals: not for cancer or cardiovascular prevention". Prescrire Int 19 (108): 182. August 2010. PMID 20939459. 
  21. ^ Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Rimm EB, Hollis BW, Fuchs CS, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC; Liu; Rimm; Hollis; Fuchs; Stampfer; Willett (April 2006). "Prospective study of predictors of vitamin D status and cancer incidence and mortality in men". J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 98 (7): 451–9. PMID 16595781. doi:10.1093/jnci/djj101. 
  22. ^ "Vitamin D Has Role in Colon Cancer Prevention". Archived from the original on 4 December 2006. Retrieved 27 July 2007. 
  23. ^ Schwartz GG, Blot WJ; Blot (April 2006). "Vitamin D status and cancer incidence and mortality: something new under the sun". J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 98 (7): 428–30. PMID 16595770. doi:10.1093/jnci/djj127. 
  24. ^ Fritz H, Kennedy D, Fergusson D, Fernandes R, Doucette S, Cooley K, Seely A, Sagar S, Wong R, Seely D; Kennedy; Fergusson; Fernandes; Doucette; Cooley; Seely; Sagar; Wong; Seely (2011). Minna, John D, ed. "Vitamin A and retinoid derivatives for lung cancer: a systematic review and meta analysis". PLoS ONE 6 (6): e21107. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...6E1107F. PMC 3124481. PMID 21738614. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021107. 
  25. ^ Cole BF, Baron JA, Sandler RS, Haile RW, Ahnen DJ, Bresalier RS, McKeown-Eyssen G, Summers RW, Rothstein RI, Burke CA, Snover DC, Church TR, Allen JI, Robertson DJ, Beck GJ, Bond JH, Byers T, Mandel JS, Mott LA, Pearson LH, Barry EL, Rees JR, Marcon N, Saibil F, Ueland PM, Greenberg ER; Baron; Sandler; Haile; Ahnen; Bresalier; McKeown-Eyssen; Summers; Rothstein; Burke; Snover; Church; Allen; Robertson; Beck; Bond; Byers; Mandel; Mott; Pearson; Barry; Rees; Marcon; Saibil; Ueland; Greenberg; Polyp Prevention Study (June 2007). "Folic acid for the prevention of colorectal adenomas: a randomized clinical trial". JAMA 297 (21): 2351–9. PMID 17551129. doi:10.1001/jama.297.21.2351. 
  26. ^ Vinceti, M; Dennert, G; Crespi, CM; Zwahlen, M; Brinkman, M; Zeegers, MP; Horneber, M; D'Amico, R; Del Giovane, C (Mar 30, 2014). "Selenium for preventing cancer". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews 3: CD005195. PMID 24683040. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005195.pub3. 
  27. ^ a b c "Cancer Vaccine Fact Sheet". NCI. 8 June 2006. Retrieved 15 November 2008. 
  28. ^ Lertkhachonsuk AA, Yip CH, Khuhaprema T, Chen DS, Plummer M, Jee SH, Toi M, Wilailak S; Yip; Khuhaprema; Chen; Plummer; Jee; Toi; Wilailak; Asian Oncology Summit (2013). "Cancer prevention in Asia: resource-stratified guidelines from the Asian Oncology Summit 2013". Lancet Oncology 14 (12): e497–507. PMID 24176569. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70350-4. 

External links

see also