Making changes in your lifestyle, like consumption of nutritious diet and increased physical activity alone, could help reduce almost 43,000 cancers by the year 2025, according to experts.
Associate Professor Peter Baade of the Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Cancer Council Queensland and coauthors sought to estimate the number of cancers that could be prevented by improvements in diet and physical activity.
Previous international research has estimated that 25% of cancers can be prevented through changes to diet and physical activity.
They then applied the published estimates on the association between food, nutrition and physical activity in preventing cancer.
This reduction of 43,000 cancers would equate to savings of $674 million in 2025 alone (based on 2000-2001 treatment costs ignoring inflation), which highlighted the need for governments, doctors and researchers to act now to reduce the future burden of cancer, the authors wrote.
The researchers found that bowel cancer had the greatest potential for prevention through diet and activity by 2025, with an estimated 10,049 cases able to be prevented, followed by female breast cancer with an estimated 7273 cases prevented.
The researchers said these estimates provided governments and policymakers with the quantitative evidence required to put preventive measures in place.
"...just over 2% of Australia's total health expenditure in 2007-08 was spent on preventive services or health promotion. When compared with the costs of treatment, prevention efforts in the area of nutrition and physical activity can be a very cost-effective investment for governments", the authors wrote.
Governments must "...act now, and act vigorously, in order to reduce the significant human and financial burden of cancer in the future", they wrote.
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.