Photo: AP

Cancer is one of the natural ways people die, often in old age.  

But according to a new study, as much as 40 percent of America’s cancer diagnoses are due to bad habits. Furthermore, as many as half of cancer-related deaths are linked to bad habits, such as smoking and poor nutrition.  

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School, looked at health data on 140,000 health care professionals. Based on the habits reported by the survey subjects, they were either classified as healthy or unhealthy.  

Those who were classified as healthy were non-smokers, did not report excessive drinking (more than one drink a day for women or two for men), had body mass indexes between 18.5 and 27.5, and reported getting at least an hour of vigorous exercise a week or two and a half hours a week of moderate exercise.  

Only about a fifth of the population was classified as “healthy.” Among that population, the rate of cancer was 463 per 100,000, compared to 618 per 100,000 for the “unhealthy” group.  

It is important to note that the surveyed population of medical professionals is healthier on average than the general population.  

The study authors, Dr. Mingyang Song and Dr. Edward Giovannucci, highlighted the results as evidence that prevention strategies should play a bigger role in the country’s effort to address cancer.  

“Guidelines and reimbursement structures should foster patient counseling on being more active, cutting back on screen time, eating a plant-based diet, keeping weight in check, and getting vaccinated,” wrote Dr. Graham Colditz and Dr. Siobhan Sutcliffe of Washington University in St. Louis in a commentary in support of the study. 

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