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Frequently Asked Questions

Pillar 1: Prevention

Can cancer be prevented?

Yes, some of the risk factors for cancer can be controlled. Choosing the right health behaviors and preventing exposure to certain environmental risk factors can help prevent the development of cancer.  The use of tobacco, a poor quality diet, and physical inactivity are just some of the behaviors that have been linked to the development of many common cancers.   For example, smoking causes about 30 percent of all U.S. deaths from cancer according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  NCI also reports that “avoiding tobacco use is the single most important step Americans can take to reduce the cancer burden in this country.  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 percent of several of the major cancers in the United States.”