Men have a 1 in 2 chance of developing some sort of cancer at sometime during their lifetime and a 1 in 4 chance of dying from cancer. For women, the risk of developing cancer is 1 in 3 and the risk of dying from cancer is 1 in 5, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute database.
Many factors, particularly age, sex and genetic inheritance, affect both your lifetime cancer risk and your risk of developing a specific type of cancer. But despite the risk, there are some people who do not get cancer even when a family history of cancer exists.
Why do some people get cancer while others don’t? That’s the new focus of an ongoing American Cancer Society study that was begun in 1950 and is now in its third generation. Three hundred thousand people between the ages of 30 and 65 are being enrolled in the latest phase of the study. Participants must be cancer-free when they join the study. After providing an initial blood sample and completing a comprehensive health survey, participants are sent follow-up surveys every two years.
The first generation study discovered the link between smoking and lung cancer. The second generation study begun in the 1980s linked obesity with increased cancer risk. The current study is exploring the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on cancer risk as well as the question of why some people get cancer while others do not.
Nearly a quarter of a million men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. For 30 million of those men that diagnosis will prove fatal. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. But big numbers make it hard to assimilate the risk, so let’s break it down:
If you are an American man, your risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 1 in 6 and your risk of dying from prostate cancer is 1 in 36. But if you are obese, your risk of death goes up dramatically.
“It is absolutely clear that obesity increases a man’s risk of dying from prostate cancer,” said Dr. Andrew Rundle, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City in an interview with NBCNews.com.
Obesity increased the risk of prostate cancer diagnosis by 57%; however, Dr. Rundle said further research is needed to determine if prostate cancer causes cancer or makes it more difficult to treat. Obesity is known to have a direct causal relationship to five cancers: post-menopausal breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer and endometrial cancer.