Finally, Some Good News About Cancer

by Anna Maltby

Bill Diodato
Bill Diodato

Feel like everything you read about cancer these days sounds like doom and gloom? Well, here's some encouraging news -- over the last 20 years, the United States has seen steady declines in deaths from cancer.

That's according to the annual statistics report from the American Cancer Society, released this week. Researchers at the ACS found that the U.S. had a 20 percent drop in the overall risk of dying from cancer in the past two decades. That means we've avoided approximately 1,340,400 cancer deaths in the last 20 years, 387,700 of which would have been women. Not too shabby, right?!

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"The progress we have made against cancer, which is reflected in the sustained declines in cancer death rates over the past two decades, is very good news," report co-author Rebecca Siegel, MPH, Director of Surveillance Information for the ACS, told SELF.

But the battle is still not over: The report estimates we will see 1,665,540 new cancer cases and more than half a million cancer deaths in 2014 alone, with the most common cancers in women being breast, lung and colon. And while many types of cancer are on the decline, a few types seem to be decreasing in incidence: melanoma of the skin; esophageal adenocarcinoma; cancers of the thyroid, liver, kidney, anus, and pancreas; and human papillomavirus-positive oropharyngeal cancers.

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That might sound scary, but it's important to remember that choices you make every day can help reduce your cancer risk, Siegel says.

"These choices include not smoking cigarettes or using any other tobacco product, maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life, eating a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limited consumption of red and processed meats, adopting a physically active lifestyle, and limiting alcohol consumption," she says. Sounds like our 14-Day Slimdown can help, too!

Want to learn more? Check out SELF's most recent Women's Cancer Handbook.

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