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New effort targets healthier living to cut cancer cases

DES MOINES — A report out this month projects nearly 19,000 Iowans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and a free program is being launched in hopes of trimming that number back.

Nigel Brockton, at the American Institute for Cancer Research, says the effort is called the Healthy 10 Challenge and it delivers daily emails that offer a range of potentially-life-saving information.

“This is a ten-week, free program that provides simple, practical, easy-to-follow, realistic advice directly to people with inboxes,” Brockton says. “This is not a crash diet. This is trying to build habits over the long-term that people can sustain.”

Studies find that many Iowans lack awareness about the cancer risks or about things that might prolong their lives. “Less than 50% of people are aware that alcohol and red meat are strong risk factors for cancer,” Brockton says, “and the good things, like whole grains, fiber, fruit and vegetables and physical activity, getting more of those can reduce your cancer risk.”

The annual Cancer in Iowa Report predicts about 18,900 Iowans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and 6,400 will die from it. The report found breast cancer will be the most common diagnosis among women, followed by lung and colorectal.

Prostate will be the most common among men, followed by lung and colorectal.
“Approximately 40% of cancers are preventable,” Brockton says, “so we’re just trying to give people that information and give them ways to meet the recommendations to try and reduce their risk.”

Iowa’s adult obesity rate is just over 32%, up from 21% in 2000 and 12% in 1990. A federal report says being overweight or obese increases the risk of 12 types of cancer, in addition to being at greater risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.

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