WHO warns cancer cases could increase 57% in next 20 years

New survey shows many believe cancer can't be prevented

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Cancer cases are expected to increase 57 percent over the next 20 years.  That's the warning from the World Health Organization.  The WHO predicts, over the next two decades, new cancer cases will rise from the estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million annually. 

While the WHO urges more commitment to prevention and early detection, a new survey shows about 1 in 6 people believe that there's nothing they can do to lower their cancer risk.

Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, an oncologist at Cleveland Clinic,  says there are basically two types of cancer.

"The majority of cancers are those that are unavoidable, they are just dumb luck, they arise out of the blue. There is something in your genetics, probably mixed with some sort of environmental exposures that we haven't identified yet, that lead to the development of cancer. But then there are those cancers that have modifiable risk factors," explained Sekeres.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, about one-third of cases of the most common cancers could be prevented by making changes to your diet, weight and physical activity.

Obesity puts you at a higher risk for some cancers because extra fat produces more hormones that can stimulate certain types of cancer, like breast cancer.

A diet high in red meat and fat puts you at a higher risk as well, especially for colon cancer. Sekeres says smoking increases your risk for lung, bladder and some leukemias and recommends quitting. He adds if there are healthy steps you can take to avoid developing cancers - now is a good time to start.

"If there are modifiable risk factors try to modify them," advised Sekeres. "Try to exercise every day, 30-minutes of exercise a day and exercise can be defined loosely. That's 30-minutes of walking. That doesn't have to be 30-minutes of rock climbing. Eating well-balanced meals minimizing the amount of fat and red meat that we take in."

Sekeres also recommends wearing sun block with SPF and limiting sun exposure to reduce your risk of skin cancer, especially if you live in a very sunny part of the country, like here in Florida.

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