Increasing exercise, eating healthy and quitting smoking could lead to 60,000 less cancer deaths each year, according to a study released by the Institute of Medicine last week. The statement is a compilation of conclusions made by the medical community over the past six years and contains a series of 12 recommendations to policy makers and those who are able to make a difference in health care and medical research, said Susan Curry director of the Health Research and Policy Centers at University of Illinois at Chicago. The recommendations run from calling for a nationally organized cancer prevention program to a motion to increase the cigarette tax.

The report examines and underscores the importance of cancer prevention, early detection and a need for interventions to alter smoking, poor eating and exercise habits. Also addressed is the necessity for professional education and training and government programs that support the cause.

“The objective of this report is to emphasize the potential to reduce the incidence of cancer,” Curry said.

But LSA senior Janice Liao, president of University Students Against Cancer, said she believes the report to be overly idealistic. “To tackle the issue of cancer at a national level seems like a very unrealistic goal, but then again, there are no other better alternatives,” she said.

USAC now focuses on cancer treatment and research, but Liao said this information could be a great opportunity to encourage a shift in focus toward prevention.

Aside from affecting policy, the report emphasizes individual informed-decision making. According to the statement, lung cancer was virtually unheard of before the emergence of the tobacco industry. The report also concluded that quitting smoking would dramatically reduce the existence of lung cancer, the top cancer killer.

“Students need to take a proactive role in their own well-being. The onset of smoking and obesity tend to occur in youth,” Curry said.

“College students should use this information to begin making behavioral changes to prevent cancer in the future.”

“Even though I’m a bit skeptical, this is still a very important cause. It will take big changes to make a difference.” Liao said.

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