Following a trend that extends almost two decades, death rates continue to drop for some of the most common forms of cancer including breast, lung, colon and prostate.
According to a 2012 annual report released by the American Cancer Society, 23% fewer men and 15% fewer women have died as a result of these types of cancer over the past 20 years.
An estimated total of one million cancer deaths are thought to have been prevented between the years of 1990 and 2008.
The report wasn't all good news, though. Certain cancers that used to be considered rare, such as thyroid cancer, skin melanoma, and kidney cancer, are beginning to afflict people more often.
In a press release, experts at the American Cancer Society say that they aren't exactly sure why rates of these atypical cancers are surging, but they speculate that obesity may play a role. They also point to more effective methods of detection as a possible contributing factor.
Are some cancers really preventable?
The report predicts that two-thirds of cancer deaths in the U.S. in the coming year will likely be the result of poor lifestyle choices.
Tobacco is thought to be the culprit in one-third of these deaths with the other third being caused by a combination of lack of physical activity, obesity and subpar nutrition.
Quitting smoking or starting an exercise plan right now will likely not help the nearly 600,000 people projected to die from cancer over the next year. But, the statistics appear to indicate that precautions can be taken to decrease one's risk for certain cancers.
The American Cancer Society offers these tips to help reduce your risk for cancer:
- Be physically active: Adults should try and accomplish 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. For frail seniors, check with your doctor on appropriate levels of exercise, and make sure they are healthy enough for physical activity.
- Keep your body weight consistently healthy: Being over weight at any age can be detrimental to your health and increase your risk for developing cancer so it is important to maintain a healthy (not too fat, and not too skinny) weight and body composition for your whole life.
- Keep your diet healthy and balanced: Emphasize veggies, whole grains, and lean meats over processed foods and red meat.
- Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum: If you consistently consume over two drinks per day, you increase your risk of developing certain cancers of the liver, breast, mouth and esophagus.