The importance of cancer statistics

November 12, 2012

The importance of cancer statistics

Do cancer statistics really tell us anything useful?

Statistics are often used by doctors giving a prognosis (that is, the likely progression and outcome of a disease). No prognosis can give a definite prediction of how a disease will progress and statistics are generally based on groups of people in similar situations – and of course, each individual is different and will react in a unique way both to the disease and to the treatment program.

Cancer statistics concerned with cancer prevention do clearly show a number of things that may affect the likelihood of an individual developing the disease.

Cancer statistics and nutrition

All of the current research into cancer, heart disease and stroke shows that the risks of developing all of these diseases are greatly reduced simply by following a healthy diet that meets all of the body’s nutritional requirements. These diseases are known to be a leading cause of death and yet something as simple as eating a proper diet can reduce the risk of all of them. In the U.S alone cancer statistics show that young people, in 2009, ate far too much fat and far too little fresh fruit and vegetables.

Poor diet and obesity

Cancer statistics show that 25% of all cancer related deaths are the result of eating a poor diet and excess weight. In the UK, research states that cancers in the bowel, stomach, breast, mouth and oesophagus are all related directly to poor diet. When these cancer statistics are considered it is hardly surprising that current recommendations by all health care professionals include advice concerning healthy eating.

Research clearly shows that a diet high in fibre, with a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables together with reduced levels of saturated fat, sodium and red meat would greatly reduce the number of cancer related deaths.


At the other end of the scale cancer statistics in the U.S show that around 33% of cancer related deaths are linked to malnutrition. Following a health, well balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients is an essential component of staying healthy and is important in the prevention and fighting of all types of cancer. Poor diet is a known risk factor for malnourishment – and it is quite possible for an individual to be morbidly obese as well as malnourished.

Good nutrition is essential for many reasons – it helps to repair and maintain the body, provides strength and energy, reduces the risk of infection as it supports the immune system and improves quality of life.

Lifestyle choices

It is well recognised that excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use have no place in a healthy lifestyle, indeed stopping the use of tobacco is probably the single most important thing an individual can do in order to reduce their risk of developing cancer. Added to that research now clearly indicates that regular exercise and a healthy diet will also lower the cancer risk for many individuals.

Dietary choices

As many as 30% of all major cancers in the U.S are linked with low levels of exercise, poor diet and obesity; poor diet and obesity are also found to have a direct link.

Obesity is a definite factor in 14% of cancer related deaths in men and in 20% of cancer related deaths in women. Making a few simple changes to diet could drastically reduce these statistics.

  • Increase intake of fruit and vegetables, choose a wide variety of colours and consume at least 5 – 7 portions daily

  • Reduce the intake of processed, starchy foods

  • Reduce intake of red and processed meats


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