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Prevention    (Early Detection or screening go here)

Can you prevent cancer or reduce your cancer risk? Does stress cause cancer? (see here.) Can you prevent cancer by changing your diet? (see here and here.) The large trial of low fat diet did not lower the risk of breast, colon or any cancer (see here.)
Go here for a recent review on diet and cancer. Will exercise prevent cancer ? (see here.)

The most current information is found at the  NCI prevention page here.  A recent comprehensive review on the subject of cancer prevention is here.
The next best web sites with good information on preventing cancer: American Cancer Society, Memorial Sloan-Kettering , Harvard, HSTAT guide and the NCCN. See the 2012 American Cancer Society advice on nutrition and physical activity here and here.

Read the ACS guide about diet and exercise here. The main section on diet and nutrition is here and best links are here. For smoking cessation go here. Most studies show the cancer prevention benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables may be disappointingly small (go here).


Other Source General lifestyle recommendations to prevent cancer include:

Avoid tobacco
Be physically active
Maintain a healthy weight
Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated/trans fat
Limit alcohol
Protect against sexually transmitted infections
Avoid excess sun
Get regular screening (breast, cervix, prostate, colon-rectum)
Specific factors associated with cancer risk include the following:
The association of dietary fat, fruits, vegetables, and fiber with cancer risk is largely unconfirmed. Red meat consumption may promote colorectal cancer and a high intake of tomatoes probably decreases prostate cancer risk.
Vitamin D may reduce the risk of colorectal and prostate cancer. Calcium intake, at a minimum of 700 mg/day, may protect against colorectal cancer but high calcium intake (>2000 mg/day) increases risk for prostate cancer.
Folate in diet has been associated with a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer, especially in women who drink alcohol; data on folic acid or multivitamin supplementation are inconsistent.
Alcohol intake, even in moderate quantities, increases the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
Physical activity is inversely related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight increases the risk of multiple cancers.

Other web sites:  AHRQ Guidelines, Diet and Nutrition, HSTAT Guide to Prevention 3rd Ed, NCI Screening, NCI Trial Page, US Prevent Task Force 2nd Ed

There have been numerous studies looking at diet supplements which might lower the risk of cancer (studies on beta-carotene, selenium, Vitamin E or aspirin type drugs.) Certain hormone drugs (Tamoxifen in breast cancer and Proscar in prostate cancer) have been shown to be effective, but most of the other studies have not shown positive results as noted in the recent studies below. A recent study showed no significant benefit from B vitamins in preventing cancer in women (go here).

Low-Dose Aspirin and Vitamin E. Challenges and Opportunities in Cancer Prevention

Eric J. Jacobs, PhD; Michael J. Thun, MD JAMA. 2005;294:105-106.

This issue of JAMA includes 2 articles from the Women’s Health Study (WHS). This 10-year long, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E included nearly 40 000 predominantly middle-aged women with no history of cancer or cardiovascular disease.3 The WHS used a 2 x 2 factorial design to evaluate the effects of low-dose aspirin (100 mg) taken every other day and 600 IU of vitamin E (in the form of natural-source {alpha}-tocopherol), also taken every other day. Neither alternate-day, low-dose aspirin nor vitamin E showed any evidence of efficacy in reducing overall cancer incidence or mortality. With respect to noncancer outcomes, notable findings for low-dose aspirin included a reduction in stroke risk, no apparent effect on myocardial infarction, and an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding requiring transfusion.  Vitamin E had no apparent effect on either cardiovascular disease incidence or on gastrointestinal bleeding.

Could long-term, low-dose aspirin treatment (?150 mg/d) produce any important reduction in risk of cancer? The WHS provides strong evidence that alternate-day, low-dose aspirin treatment does not, or at least not for women within the first 10 years of treatment. There was no suggestion of reduced risk for overall cancer incidence, breast cancer incidence, colorectal cancer incidence, or cancer mortality. This remained true even in analyses restricted to the second 5 years of follow-up, when participants in the intervention group had already accrued a minimum of 5 years of aspirin exposure. To our knowledge, no other studies, either randomized trials or observational studies, have evaluated the effect of alternate-day, low-dose aspirin on cancer risk. A previous, considerably smaller, randomized trial examined alternate-day use of 325 mg of aspirin and found no association with colorectal cancer incidence. However, the 5-year intervention period of this trial may have been too short to produce clear effects. Results from the WHS do not entirely rule out the possibility that taking low-dose aspirin every day, rather than every other day, could have some cancer prevention benefits. Evidence about the potential effects of daily low-dose aspirin on cancer risk is limited and includes some inconsistent findings. For example, a randomized trial found a dose of 81 mg/d reduced risk of colorectal polyp recurrence.  However, analyses of pharmacy databases in the United Kingdom and Denmark found no association between low-dose aspirin use and colorectal cancer incidence.

The null results from WHS with respect to alternate-day, low-dose aspirin do not refute previous evidence that moderate or high doses of aspirin (?325 mg/d) may reduce the risk of certain cancers. In numerous observational studies, regular use of aspirin has consistently been associated with reduced risk of colon or colorectal cancer, with most studies reporting 30% to 50% reductions in incidence.   Two randomized trials have shown that aspirin treatment reduces the recurrence of colorectal adenomatous polyps in patients with previous polyps or colorectal cancer. Aspirin use has also been consistently associated with reduced risk of esophageal and stomach cancer, although there are fewer studies of these cancers than of colorectal cancer.  The totality of the evidence from laboratory studies, observational epidemiology, and randomized trials of colorectal polyp recurrence continues to support the hypothesis that moderate or high doses of aspirin may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, and possibly the risk of certain other cancers as well.

The null results for vitamin E (in the form of {alpha}-tocopherol) and cancer from the WHS add to the evidence from 2 previous trials   that even relatively long-term {alpha}-tocopherol supplementation is unlikely to have any substantial effect on cancer risk, at least in women. An unexpected reduction in prostate cancer incidence was observed among men randomized to {alpha}-tocopherol in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta Carotene (ATBC) trial, a study that included only male smokers.  However, this association was not observed in the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation–The Ongoing Outcomes (HOPE-TOO) trial,  in postintervention follow-up of the ATBC trial,  or in 2 large prospective observational studies,  and may have been a result of chance. Although ongoing randomized trials will eventually provide further information, the promise of {alpha}-tocopherol as a cancer prevention agent appears to be dimming.

Should the null results with respect to cancer from this large, well-conducted, long-term randomized trial, or from other chemoprevention trials, be considered discouraging news for cancer chemoprevention in general? There have been some successes in cancer chemoprevention, such as the use of tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer in high-risk women. However, currently, no agent has been shown to do for cancer what statins do for cardiovascular disease, namely substantially and relatively safely reduce disease occurrence in individuals not at especially high risk. Pharmacological primary prevention of diseases as heterogeneous as cancer is inherently difficult. Randomized trials of cancer chemoprevention will undoubtedly produce many null results. Nevertheless, continued systematic research on cancer chemoprevention, including long-term randomized trials of carefully chosen agents, is essential given the large potential benefits. At the same time, it is unrealistic to expect the discovery of an agent that will produce substantial reductions in overall cancer rates in the immediate future.

With this in mind, it is important to remember that effective methods for reducing cancer incidence and mortality have already been discovered, but are underapplied. For instance, colorectal cancer screening is greatly underused,   providing an important cancer prevention opportunity for physicians and other health care professionals. Reducing tobacco use is essential for cancer prevention, and strong evidence indicates that policy measures, such as increases in tobacco excise taxes and clean indoor air regulations, are effective in reducing tobacco use.  In addition, clinicians can play an invaluable role in cancer prevention by asking patients about tobacco use and ensuring that patients who use tobacco receive appropriate counseling and treatment.