Pacific Cancer Programs

Cancer Prevention

Staying well, taking care of ourselves and our families and preventing illness or disease is always the best approach. Prevention is also more cost-effective than cancer treatment. You will find a wealth of information in the websites and document links below about healthy lifestyles and avoiding exposure to occupational and environmental health hazards to help you, your family and your community prevent cancer incidence and deaths.

1. General Information

At least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. Six risk factors for non-communicable diseases are:

  1. Poor Diet and Nutrition
  2. Tobacco Consumption
  3. Physical Inactivity
  4. Excessive Alcohol Use
  5. Certain Infectious Agents
  6. Certain Environmental Factors

I. Diet, Food and Nutrition

Dietary modification and the consumptions of healthy local foods are important approaches to cancer control. There is a link between overweight and obesity to many types of cancer such as oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney. Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have a protective effect against many cancers. Conversely, excess consumption of red and preserved meat may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, healthy eating habits that prevent the development of diet-associated cancers will also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

II. Tobacco Consumption

Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world today. It causes 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths, and about 30% of all cancer deaths in developing countries, including deaths from cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, oesophagus and stomach. A comprehensive strategy including bans on tobacco advertising and sponsorship, tax increases on tobacco products, and cessation programs can reduce tobacco consumption in many countries.

III. Physical Inactivity

Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, will considerably reduce cancer risk. National policies and programs should be implemented to raise awareness and reduce exposure to cancer risk factors, and to ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles.

IV. Excessive Alcohol Use

Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of cancer. Although there is some evidence to suggest that small amounts of alcohol such as moderate consumption of red wine can help protect against heart disease. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day. Since the 1997 report, the evidence that alcoholic drinks can increase the risk of a number of cancers, including breast and colon cancer, is much stronger.

V. Certain Infectious Agents

Infectious agents are responsible for almost 22% of cancer deaths in the developing world and 6% in industrialized countries. Viral hepatitis B and C cause cancer of the liver; human papilloma virus infection causes cervical cancer; the bacterium Helicobacter pylori increases the risk of stomach cancer. In some countries the parasitic infection schistosomiasis increases the risk of bladder cancer and in other countries the liver fluke increases the risk of cholangiocarcinoma of the bile ducts. Preventive measures include vaccination and prevention of infection and infestation.

VI. Environmental Factors

Exposure to ionizing radiation is also known to cause to certain cancers. Excessive solar ultraviolet radiation increases the risk of all types of cancer of the skin. Avoiding excessive exposure, use of sunscreen and protective clothing are effective preventive measures.

Asbestos can cause lung cancer; aniline dyes have been linked to bladder cancer; and benzene can lead to leukemia.

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the thin membrane protecting several of the body’s most important organs. It’s caused by asbestos, a natural, fire-resistant mineral used by many industries—construction, manufacturing, and even the military—in a variety of materials.

The prevention of certain occupational and environmental exposure to these and other chemicals is another important element in preventing cancer.

2. Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries. - WHO

Articles referenced in the video:

  • J. Michael McGinnis, MD, MPP; William H. Foege, MD, MPH - Actual Causes of Death in the United States >LINK<
  • J. Michael McGinnis, Pamela Williams-Russo and James R. Knickman - The Case For More Active Policy Attention To Health Promotion >LINK<
  • Keon, W. J., and L. Pépin. "A healthy, productive Canada: a determinant of health approach. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs." Science and Technology. Final Report of Senate Sub-Committee on Population Health (2009).
  • County Health Rankings, 2010 - wwww.countyhealthrankings.org
  • Sir Michael Marmot's 19 minutes talk on Social Determinants of Health, titled: Fair Society, Healthy Lives- >Youtube<

3. Additional Online Resources

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Public Health Program (PHP) is dedicated to improving the health, and therefore the future, of all Pacific Islanders. PHP strives to promote and protect the health of Pacific Island peoples and it advocates a holistic approach to health, supports sustainable capacity development, and facilitates and promotes collaboration with partners.

National Cancer Institute (NCI): Cancer Prevention Overview - The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is one of 11 agencies that compose the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS). The NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients.

American Cancer Society (ACS): Prevention & Early Detection - The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has 13 chartered Divisions and more than 3,400 local offices.

Cancer prevention: 7 steps to reduce your risk: Small changes in your everyday life might help reduce your risk of cancer. Find more information and tool for healthy lifestyle.

Publichealth.org recently published a summary report of the state of cancer in America.

PublicHealth.org is dedicated to connecting patients, students and professionals to the latest and most useful healthcare information and resources available.

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Funding for this website was made possible by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through the following:
Pacific CEED, award #: 5U58DP000976,USAPI Community Health Interventions Project (CHIP), award #: 1U58DP005810,
Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry, award #: 5U58DP003906; Regional Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, award #: U55/CCU923887.
The views expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services;
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Funding Sources: PRCCR: #: 5U58DP003906  | Pacific REACH: #: 1U58DP005810 | RCCC: #: U55/CCU923887 

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