Cancer is now the leading cause of death for people under 85, but cancer experts say this is largely preventable.
It's no secret. Here's how:
So how are we doing? Not nearly as well as we should, according to Thursday's release of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures 2005.
Some things are getting better. For example, Americans smoke less than ever before — although too many of us still smoke. And some things are getting worse. For example, we're setting new records for being overweight and out of shape.
Our Kids' Cancer Risks
Much of our lifetime cancer risk comes from our childhood behavior. Here's how our kids are doing:
- Tobacco smoking is way down since peaking in 1997, when 36 percent of children and teens smoked. But more than one in five of our kids still smokes cigarettes.
- Children and teens are more overweight than ever. From 1980 to 2002, overweight and obesity doubled among kids aged 6 to 11 — from 7 percent to 16 percent of kids. And it tripled among kids aged 12-19 — from 5 percent to 16 percent of teens.
- 38 percent of high school students watch three or more hours of television every day.
- Only 28 percent of kids have daily physical education classes.
- Kids walk 60 percent less than they did in 1977.
- Only 15 percent of high school students use sunscreen when in the sun for more than an hour.
Adult Cancer Risks
As adults, there's still much we can do to cut our cancer risk. Here's how we're doing:
- More than one in four men and more than one in five women still smoke cigarettes.
- Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight. That includes the 30 percent of us who are obese.
- Not quite half of U.S. adults get enough exercise.
- Only about one in four U.S. adults eats five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- The American Cancer Society recommends regular mammograms for all women over 40. Nearly 55 percent of U.S. women do this.
- 82 percent of American women over 18 report getting a recommended Pap smear.
- 39 percent of Americans get recommended colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50.
Preventable Cancer Risk Factors By State, City
The American Cancer Society has ranked U.S. states and cities on some preventable cancer risk factors. These rankings are meant as a guideline, as reporting factors may vary from region to region. And not all states report all risk factors.
Of the 32 states reporting high school students' tobacco use:
- The winner is Utah, with only 7 percent of high school kids reporting tobacco use.
- The runner-up is Idaho, with 14 percent of high school kids reporting tobacco use.
- The loser is Kentucky, with 33 percent of high school kids reporting tobacco use.
- Second worst is North Dakota, with 30 percent of high school kids reporting tobacco use.
- Among 18 cities participating in the survey, Detroit was best with 9.1 percent of high school kids reporting tobacco use. Dallas was worst, with 18.1 percent of high school kids reporting tobacco use.
- The best report card again comes from Utah, where 7 percent of high school students are overweight.
- Second best is Wyoming, where 7.2 percent of high school students are overweight.
- Worst is Mississippi, where 15.7 percent of high school students are overweight.
- Second worst is Tennessee, where 15.2 percent of high school students are overweight.
- Of 18 cities participating in the survey, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is best at 9.3 percent. Detroit is worst at 19.9 percent.
- Utah wins again, with 12 percent of adults using tobacco.
- Runner-up is California, with 17 percent of adults using tobacco.
- Worst is West Virginia, with 27.4 percent of adults using tobacco.
- Second worst is Missouri, with 27.3 percent of adults using tobacco.
- "Best" is Hawaii, where "only" 50 percent of adults are overweight or obese.
- Runner up is Colorado, where 51 percent of adults are overweight or obese.
- Worst is Alabama, where 63.3 percent of adults are overweight or obese.
- Second worst is Kentucky, where 63.1 percent of adults are overweight or obese.
By Daniel J. DeNoon
Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
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