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Half of all diseases are caused by preventable risk factors – healing practice



Almost one in two cases of cancer is preventable

Around every second cancer in men and one in three cases of cancer in women, according to a recent study preventable risk factors assigned. Five factors in particular have a particularly strong influence on cancer risk: smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, nutrition and unprotected sex.

researchers of Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington School of Medicine published in the prestigious journal “The Lancetpublished a comprehensive analysis of the impact of 34 risk factors on the mortality and morbidity of 23 types of cancer.

Deaths from preventable cancers

Cancer comes second only to cardiovascular diseases in the world second leading cause of death. According to the study, 4.45 million people died worldwide in 2019 from cancer caused by preventable risk factors. Corresponding 44.4% of all cancer deaths worldwide.

According to the research team, the proportion of potentially preventable cancers increased by 20.4% between 2010 and 2019.

However, the risk is different for men and women. Just over half of all cancer deaths in men (50.6%; 2.88 million cases) would have been preventable, in women it’s just over a third of all cases (36.3%; 1.58 million).

The deadliest types of cancer

Cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung account for the largest proportion of preventable cancer deaths in both men and women at 36.9 percent.

13.3% of men also died colon and rectal cancer9.7 percent esophageal cancer and 6.6% stomach cancer.

17.9% of women died Cervical cancer15.8 percent colon and rectal cancer and 11 percent breast cancer.

Smoking has the biggest impact on cancer risk

“Tobacco use remains the leading risk factor for cancer worldwide, with other factors contributing to varying degrees to the cancer burden”underlines the director of the IHME Dr Christopher Murray.

Next to the Smoking have too alcohol consumption, Overweight, bad eating habits and unprotected sex a major impact on the global prevalence of cancer.

Years of life lost in good quality of life

The study not only focused on cancer deaths, but also years of life lost in good quality of lifewho tagged DALY (disability adjusted life years) can be shortened.

Overall, according to the study 105 million years of life lost healthy quality of life (DALY) resulting from preventable cancers. This represents 42% of all DALYs caused by cancer.

Smoking steals most years of healthy life

There is also a gender difference here. It’s like that with men, for example Smoking alone is responsible for 33.9% of all cancer-related DALYsfor women, it is only 10.7%.

alcohol consumption is responsible for 7.4 percent of male cancer DALYs, followed by bad nutrition (5.9% of DALYs) and air pollution (4.4 percent).

According to the study, women unprotected sex the second largest contributor to years of healthy life lost due to preventable cancer. 8.2% of DALYs were attributed to this factor, followed by bad nutrition with 5.1% and Overweight with 4.7%. Alcohol accounts for only 2.3% of cancer-related DALYs in women.

limitation of results

The researchers point out that there are no cancer registries in some countries and therefore there is a lack of reliable data in some cases. These uncertainties were compensated by statistical averages. The study should therefore be understood as an approximation of reality.

Nevertheless, it is the most comprehensive study to date of preventable risk factors for cancer. There is currently no comparable work. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • GBD 2019 Cancer Risk Factors Collaborators: The global burden of cancer attributable to risk factors, 2010-2019: a systematic review for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019; in: The Lancet (2022),
  • IHME: Nearly half of cancer deaths worldwide are due to risk factors, with smoking, alcohol consumption and high BMI being major contributors (Published: 08/18/2022),
  • Aerzteblatt international: Nearly half of cancer deaths are preventable (published: 08/19/2022),

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.