Age and smoking are the strongest risk factors for any cancer

THURSDAY, August 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Age and smoking are the strongest risk factors associated with the five-year risk of developing cancer, according to a study published online August 3 in Cancer.

Alpa V. Patel, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society in Kennesaw, Georgia, and colleagues used data from two prospective cohort studies (Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort and Cancer Prevention Study-3) to identify risk factors associated with an absolute risk > 2% for any cancer within five years. A total of 429,991 participants with no personal history of cancer were followed for up to five years.

The researchers found that within five years of enrollment, 15,226 invasive cancers were diagnosed. The highest multivariate adjusted relative risk for any cancer was observed in current smokers compared to non-smokers. Alcohol consumption, family history of cancer, red meat consumption and physical inactivity were also associated with risk in men, while body mass index, type 2 diabetes, hysterectomy, parity, family history of cancer, hypertension, tubal ligation and physical inactivity were associated with risk in women. Among nearly all participants over the age of 50 and among some participants under the age of 50, including current or former smokers and long-time non-smokers with a body mass index > 25 kg/m² or a history first-degree family cancer, the five annual risk exceeded 2%. The five-year absolute risk was as high as 29 and 25% in men and women, respectively.

“Our results are encouraging as we work to define subgroups within the general population that could benefit from improved cancer screening and prevention,” Patel said in a statement.

This analysis was supported by GRAIL, a subsidiary of Illumina; one author is employed by GRAIL and a second author disclosed financial ties to industry.

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