Half of all cancer deaths could be avoided by adopting a healthier lifestyle
Doctors have long warned unhealthy lifestyles increase the risk of cancer in later life.
Yet just one in five women and one in four men follow the health advice, the researchers found.
The stark findings are the first to put a figure on how many lives could be saved if people took responsibility for their own health.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School today announced their findings after examining the health records of 136,000 white Americans.
They found cases of cancer would fall by 20 to 40 per cent, and deaths would drop by half, if the entire population adopted a healthy lifestyle.
The team said this would be achieved by:
* Quitting smoking,
* Doing at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week
* Consuming no more than one drink a day for women - or two for men
* Keeping to a body mass index of between 18.5 and 27.5 - which for someone with a height of 5’6’’ means a weight of 8st3lb to 12st3lb.
And if the entire population followed this well-publicised health advice:
* Deaths for lung cancer would be slashed by 80 per cent
* For bowel cancer by up to 30 per cent
* Prostate cancer by 21 per cent
* Breast cancer by 12 per cent