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7 Deadliest Cancers and How to Prevent Them

Kiara Kinghorn | Sep 22, 2016

If you are like most Americans, you have experienced a cancer diagnosis first-hand, either for yourself or a loved one within your immediate family. Even with ongoing research and funding, cancer will still arise in 1.6 million people living in the United States, according to The American Cancer Society. While that number is staggering, there still is hope. Information and preventive action can definitely help your odds. Read ahead for the deadliest types of cancer and how to prevent them.

1. Pancreatic Cancer


he pancreas is a digestive organ about six inches long and located behind the stomach. It is responsible for secreting enzymes to break down raw food molecules and deliver them to the small intestine. When pancreatic cells mutate and then grow uncontrollably, cancerous tumors can form on the pancreas and spread to surrounding organs. Because early detection is uncommon, this form of cancer is generally elusive and incredibly complicated to treat. And because of the drastic increase of obesity rates in America, combined with a lack of physical exercise, pancreatic cancer is on the rise. While the specific cause is relatively unknown, diet and exercise undeniably play a major role in risk factors. Eating whole, mostly plant-based foods with adequate exercise will lower your risk.

The battle against cancer is far from over, as evidenced by the fact that it ranks as the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., trailing only heart disease. 591,699 Americans succumbed to cancer in 2014 according to CDC data, 23,000 less than fell victim to heart disease.

2. Prostate Cancer (Men)


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and symptoms don’t usually develop until the disease has advanced significantly. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that creates part of seminal fluid. Cancer causes the gland to increase in size, and often it will start affecting the urethra, causing painful urination. Studies have shown that prostate cancer is most common in North American and European countries, which suggests a link between the disease and lifestyle, like diet and exercise. Sexually transmitted diseases may be a risk factor as well, but more research is needed to prove a connection.

3. Breast Cancer (Women)


While breast cancer deaths have been slowly decreasing since the year 2000, it’s still a major killer: 1 in 8 American women will experience some form of this invasive cancer, according to, and your likelihood doubles if an immediate relative, (like a mother or sister) has been diagnosed. Get regular mammograms after the age of 40, and self-exams can easily be performed monthly if you know how to do them. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and seek a doctor immediately if you notice any irregularity with your nipples or surrounding breast tissue.

4. Colon Cancer


Are you over 50? If so, you’re at risk: About 90% of colon cancer cases occur at this time in life in the US, so regular colonoscopies are imperative for prevention. The colon is the lowest of the digestive organs, and it is where water and salt are extracted from solid waste before it exits the body through bowel movements. Because of its close proximity to the rectum, sometimes both rectum and colon cancer happen simultaneously, called colorectal cancer, which is especially deadly. However, it’s also relatively more preventable than most other cancers, and a healthy diet is the most effective tool. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, while avoiding saturated fats and excessive red meat to keep this killer away.

5. Esophageal Cancer


Sometimes called the “food pipe,” your esophagus is about ten inches long and connects your throat to your stomach. It delivers food, water, and digestive enzymes as you chew, swallow, breathe, and eat. Esophageal cancer is especially deadly as it is prone to spreading, (also called metastasizing) particularly to the liver, blood, stomach, and lymph nodes. As with other forms of cancer, tobacco, either smoked, chewed, or snuffed, is a huge risk factor. Excessive alcohol plays a huge part as well, but is especially risky when combined with tobacco use.

6. Lung Cancer


In the 1950s, our media glorified cigarette smoking by making it seem sexy, manly, and even a dieting technique. But those days are gone, and it’s time to put out the flame. Smoking is undeniably linked to major health complications, but especially lung cancer. Lungs are soft, porous organs that filter the air you breathe over twenty thousand times per day. While toxins from air pollution and asbestos have been proven to be linked to lung cancer, there is no bigger culprit than cigarette smoking. In the year 2000, 90% of all lung cancer cases were linked to cigarette smoking in the modern world. If that’s not reason enough to quit the puffing, think of those around you. Second-hand smoking is also just as dangerous, impacting over 3,400 cases in the US alone.

7. Liver Cancer


The liver is one of the largest and most vital organs in the body. Unfortunately, liver cancer patients don’t experience any obvious symptoms at first. While the World Health Organization estimates 30 cases for every 100,000 people worldwide, there are some ways to avoid it. Cutting back on excessive alcohol consumption is number one, since the toxins in alcohol filter right through the liver and affect its health. Diabetes is another major contributor, so keeping a healthy diet is crucial, as is regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.