Following cancer prevention guidelines may lower risk of death from all causes


  • Carrie Printz

Nonsmokers who followed cancer prevention guidelines lowered their risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all causes, according to a study of more than 100,000 men and women that was conducted over 14 years.

The study, led by Marjorie McCullough, ScD, of the ACS, was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.1

Few studies to date have examined the impact of following prevention guidelines on all 3 causes of death, and the majority of those previously conducted used tobacco avoidance as one of the recommendations; however, because 8 in 10 Americans are never or former smokers, investigators wanted to better understand the effect of following other recommendations.

McCullough and colleagues used results from diet and lifestyle questionnaires completed in 1992 and 1993 by 111,966 nonsmoking men and women in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. They were scored on a scale ranging from 0 to 8 in terms of adherence to all recommendations.

After 14 years, men with high compliance scores (7 or 8) had a 42% lower risk of death compared with those with low scores (0-2). The risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 48% lower among men and 58% lower among women in the high-compliance group, whereas the risk of cancer death was 30% lower in high-compliance men and 24% lower in high-compliance women. Similar, although not statistically significant, associations were observed for never and former smokers.

As a result, researchers summarized that adhering to cancer prevention guidelines for obesity, diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all causes in nonsmokers and may substantially lower the risk of premature mortality in older adults.


In the August 1, 2011 issue of “CancerScope,” Jill O'Donnell- Tormey, PhD, was incorrectly identified as the executive director of the Cancer Vaccine Acceleration Fund. She is the executive director of the Cancer Research Institute