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Lifestyle Pattern May Be Associated With Cancer Risk in White Adults

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Key Points

  • A healthy lifestyle pattern was associated with a reduced risk for carcinomas among white adults.
  • Population attributable risks for incidence in women and men were 82% and 78% for lung, 29% and 20% for colon/rectum, and 30% and 29% for pancreatic cancers.

In a study reported in JAMA Oncology, Song and Giovannucci found that a “healthy lifestyle pattern” was associated with a reduced risk for carcinomas among white adults.

Study Details

The study included data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Carcinomas included all cancers except skin, brain, lymphatic, hematologic, and nonfatal prostate malignancies.

A healthy lifestyle pattern was defined as never or past smoking (pack-years < 5), no or moderate alcohol drinking (≤ 1 drink/d for women, ≤ 2 drinks/d for men), body mass index ≥ 18.5 and < 27.5 kg/m2, and weekly aerobic physical activity of ≥ 75 vigorous-intensity or 150 moderate-intensity minutes. All four criteria were met by 16,531 of 89,571 women and 11,731 of 46,339 men included in the analysis; these individuals constituted the low-risk group, with all others constituting the high-risk group. Population attributable risk (proportion of cases avoided if all individuals adopted the lifestyle of the low-risk population) was calculated as the difference in cancer rates between the low- and high-risk groups divided by the rate in the high-risk group.

Reduced Risks

Population attributable risks for total carcinoma incidence were 25% for women and 33% for men; population attributable risks for carcinoma mortality were 48% and 44%. Among individual cancers, population attributable risks for incidence in women and men were 82% and 78% for lung, 29% and 20% for colon and rectum, 30% and 29% for pancreatic, 36% and 44% for bladder, 36% and 4% for kidney, 16% and 38% for oral cavity and pharyngeal, 27% and 32% for liver, and 62% and 66% for esophageal cancers. Population attributable risks for incidence were 4% for breast, 21% for ovarian, 21% for endometrial cancers, and 21% for fatal prostate cancer. Population attributable risks for mortality were generally similar.

The investigators concluded: “A substantial cancer burden may be prevented through lifestyle modification. Primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control.”

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Mingyang Song, MD, ScD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is the corresponding author of the JAMA Oncology article.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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