The adoption of healthier living habits, eliminating smoking, alcohol consumption, overweight and lack of physical activity, could reduce the number of cancer cases in Brazil by 27% per year – that would be 114,500 fewer people with the disease .
And more: 63,400 deaths from cancer could be avoided with the suppression of these factors.
The conclusion is from a study conducted by researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine of the University of São Paulo School of Medicine and Harvard University, with support from Fapesp (State of São Paulo Research Support Foundation).
This work links data from the medical literature about the influence of these habits on 20 types of cancer, IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) statistics on high BMI (body mass index), cigarette consumption, alcohol, physical activity and POF (Family Budget Research) on the consumption of fiber, calcium, red and processed meat.
Leandro Rezende, one of the authors of the paper, says that the goal was precisely to arrive at this estimate in numbers about cancer cases and deaths that can be avoided. "They can be useful both to inform the population and to – and especially – to guide public health policies," he said.
According to the researcher, smoking is "by far" the most associated factor as the main cause of several types of cancer. But he recalled that the habit has been reduced with a combination of public policies, including high taxes. "It is sad to see a debate on possible tax cuts to combat the use of smuggled cigarettes," he said.
He highlighted overweight and obesity because it is growing in the country. The work, said Rezende, discusses the need for public policies to improve the factor, such as regulation of ultraprocessed foods, high salt, sugar and fat content, and encouraging the adoption of more active ways of life, suitable sidewalks, parks, leisure equipment.