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LMU 10 – Lifestyle Changes that Dramatically Reduce Cancer Incidence: A Comprehensive Analysis


LMU 10 – Lifestyle Changes that Dramatically Reduce Cancer Incidence: A Comprehensive Analysis

Source: Journal Source JAMA, May 19, 2016

Lifestyle Medicine Update (June 1, 2016)


The battle against cancer has intensified in recent years, and researchers continue to explore ways to prevent and reduce cancer incidence. A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on May 19, 2016, has shed light on the profound impact of lifestyle changes on cutting cancer deaths by approximately 50%. Combining data from the Nurses’ Health Study, the Health Professional Follow-up Study, and US national cancer statistics, this research provides valuable insights into cancer prevention through modest yet significant lifestyle modifications.

The Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study

The Nurses’ Health Study has been a pioneering endeavor, following 89,571 female nurses in the United States over many years. Meanwhile, the Health Professional Follow-up Study has been tracking 46,339 male health professionals for an extended period. By combining data from these two extensive longitudinal studies, researchers gained a substantial sample size, ensuring the reliability and generalizability of their findings.

Lifestyle Patterns for Cancer Prevention

The study revealed that adhering to four specific lifestyle patterns significantly reduces the risk of cancer and cancer-related mortality. Participants who followed all four practices demonstrated up to a 40% reduction in cancer risk and an impressive 50% reduction in cancer-related deaths. The four key lifestyle patterns are as follows:

  1. Non-smoking: Avoiding smoking or cessation of smoking significantly lowers the risk of various cancers, including lung, mouth, throat, and bladder cancer. Past smokers, who abstained from smoking recently, also experienced the benefits of reduced cancer risk.
  2. Limited alcohol consumption: Keeping alcohol intake to a minimum is crucial for cancer prevention. The study suggests that women should have one or fewer drinks daily, while men should limit themselves to two or fewer drinks daily.
  3. Healthy Body Mass Index (BMI): Maintaining a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5 is associated with a considerable decrease in cancer risk. Monitoring BMI regularly and making appropriate dietary and exercise adjustments is essential to achieve and sustain a healthy weight.
  4. Regular exercise: Regular aerobic exercise significantly contributes to cancer prevention. The study recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity per week.

Enhancing Cancer Prevention Strategies

While the four lifestyle patterns mentioned above are crucial for reducing cancer risk, it is essential to recognize that additional measures can contribute to cancer prevention. The study highlights some basic practices that can complement the primary lifestyle changes:

  1. Not smoking: Smoking remains one of the most significant risk factors for cancer. Avoiding tobacco products altogether is essential for overall health and cancer prevention.
  2. Limiting alcohol consumption: Even moderate alcohol consumption can elevate cancer risk. It is advisable to minimize alcohol intake or abstain entirely.
  3. Healthy weight management: Excess body weight has been linked to increased cancer risk. Individuals should focus on a balanced diet and regular physical activity to maintain a healthy BMI.
  4. Regular exercise: Physical activity helps control weight and boosts the immune system, reducing the risk of cancer.

The study reinforces that approximately 85% of cancer cases are attributed not solely to inherited gene mutations but to modifiable lifestyle factors. Thus, individuals can significantly reduce their cancer risk by adopting prudent lifestyle practices.


The study published in JAMA on May 19, 2016, has offered compelling evidence that adopting modest lifestyle changes can dramatically cut cancer incidence and mortality. By analyzing data from the Nurses’ Health Study, the Health Professional Follow-up Study, and national cancer statistics, researchers underscored the significance of non-smoking, limited alcohol consumption, healthy BMI maintenance, and regular exercise in cancer prevention.

As we strive to combat cancer globally, it is essential to disseminate these findings widely. Encouraging individuals to make positive lifestyle adjustments and embrace healthier habits can substantially reduce the burden of cancer and promote overall well-being. Remember, small changes can lead to significant results, and the journey toward a cancer-free future begins with proactive and informed lifestyle choices.


Here is the link to the journal article review:


Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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