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Prevention Could Save 100,000 Lives in U.S., Study Says

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Quitting smoking and four other simple preventive steps could save the lives of 100,000 Americans annually, researchers say.

Reuters reported Aug. 7 that the Partnership for Prevention said that the five steps were increased efforts to get smokers to quit, encouraging adults to take an aspirin a day to prevent heart disease, more colorectal and breast-cancer screenings, and annual flu shots for people over age 50.

“This shows so dramatically the potential impact of prevention,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “These are really very modest, low-cost interventions that have such potentially dramatic impact on improving the health of the public … Our nation has never truly invested in prevention.”

Fewer than half of Americans take a low dose of aspirin daily to prevent heart disease, but if 90 percent did, it would save 45,000 lives each year, experts said. If 90 percent of smokers were advised by doctors to quit and offered cessation drugs, another 42,000 lives could be saved. “To actually implement this and have the impact of saving 100,000 lives will really require a multi-pronged approach with public health taking the lead,” Toomey said.

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