(HealthDay News) — Despite improvements in aspects of cancer prevention and early detection, more systematic efforts to reduce tobacco use and obesity, and expand the use of screening tests could prevent much of the suffering and deaths from cancer, according to a report published online April 11 by the American Cancer Society.

Vilma Cokkinides, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues compiled data from publicly available surveys to provide prevalence estimates of health-related behaviors and practices linked to cancer prevention and early detection.

According to the report, the prevalence of cigarette smoking decreased in U.S. adults from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 19.0 percent in 2011, with significant declines seen for men and women, and also among high school students. The increasing rates of obesity seen since the 1980s appear to be slowing, although current estimates suggest that 18.4 percent of adolescents and 35.7 percent of adults are obese. Thirty-three states have enacted policies to control the indoor tanning industry, seven of which have restricted access for minors. There has been an increase in the initiation of the human papillomavirus vaccination series among U.S. female teenagers; despite improvements in the past six years, vaccine coverage lags behind that of other recommended vaccines. Mammogram use and screening for colorectal cancer are lowest for those who lack health insurance, while the Papanicolaou screening test is persistently underused among uninsured women, recent immigrants, and those with low education.

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“Our report is a striking reminder that we need to do a better job reducing behavioral risk factors that increase cancer risk,” Cokkinides said in a statement.

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