37 000 Australian cancers could be prevented

An Australian-first study that found about 37 000 Australian cancer cases could be prevented each year.

 

The ground-breaking research by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, funded by Cancer Council Australia, showed one in three cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle change.

 

The study identified 13 risk factors with smoking, UV radiation, body weight, poor diet and alcohol causing about 90 per cent of all preventable cancers.

 

QIMR Berghofer’s Professor David Whiteman said there was sufficient evidence to associate 13 different factors with 24 cancer types, including some cancers with the highest mortality.

 

“In addition to common lifestyle risk factors, we analysed the contributions of lesser-known risk factors that cause cancer such as hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus, HIV and Epstein Barr virus,” Professor Whiteman said.

 

“We hope this study will help guide lifestyle change and health policy in Australia, and contribute to the international evidence on cancer prevention.”

 

The analysis also found 7000 new cancer cases a year are also attributable to low fruit and vegetable intake, low fibre intake and eating excess red meat.

 

An estimated 81% of all lung cancers can be attributed to the fact that people smoke.

 

Key findings

  • A total of 32% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia (excluding non-melanoma cancers) were attributed to the 13 cancer risk factors assessed

  • This translates to up to 37,000 cancers (or one third of all cancers) being preventable each year in Australia. This is fewer than the total for each risk factor below because some cancers may be attributed to more than one risk factor

  • 33% of cancers in men and 31% in women are estimated to be preventable.

  • 9 in 10 preventable cancers are caused by just six risk factors: smoking, UV radiation, poor diet, overweight, physical inactivity and alcohol.

 

Cancers attributable to risk factors in 2010

Risk factor

Estimated number of cases in 2010 linked to risk factor by cancer type (percentage of cancers of that type linked to risk factor)

Tobacco smoking

Lung 8324 (81%)

Oral cavity/pharynx 1973 (59%)

Oesophagus 855 (60%)

Stomach 383 (19%)

Liver 290 (21%)

Pancreas 622 (23%)

Cervix 56 (7%)

Ovary 26 (2%)

Bladder 781 (32%)

Larynx 478 (77%)

Kidney and Ureter 633 (20%)

Myeloid Leukaemia 153 (11%)

Bowel 951 (6%)

UV radiation

Melanoma 7220 (63%)

Keratinocyte skin cancers 1 million+ cases, estimated separately (100%)

Overweight/obesity

Colon 1101 (10%)

Female breast (postmenopausal) 971 (8%)

Endometrium 595 (26%)

Kidney 509 (19%)

Rectum 231 (6%)

Oesophagus 213 (15%)

Pancreas 205 (8%)

Ovary 47 (4%)

Gallbladder 45 (14%)

Alcohol consumption

Colon 868 (8%)

Breast 830 (6%)

Oral Cavity Pharynx 613 (31%)

Oesophagus 126 (9%)

Rectum 470 (12%)

Liver 175 (13%)

Larynx 126 (20%)

Inadequate fibre intake

Colorectal 2609 (18%)

Inadequate fruit intake

Stomach 130 (7%)

Larynx 37 (6%)

Lung 989 (10%)

Oral cavity pharynx 180 (6%)

Oesophagus 219 (15%)

Inadequate vegetable intake

Stomach 32 (2%)

Oral cavity pharynx 190 (7%)

Larynx 38 (6%)

Oesophagus 51 (4%)

Red and processed meat consumption

Colon 1,700 (16%)

Rectum 914 (23%)

Physical inactivity

Colon 707 (7%)

Postmenopausal Breast 971 (8%)

endometrial 136 (6%)

Infections e.g.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV),

Hepatitis B and C (HBV HPC),

Helicobacter pylori, HIV, EBV.

Oral Cavity 77 (7%)

Oropharynx 304 (40%)

Anus 288 (84%)

Vulva 120 (40%)

Vagina 61 (70%)

Uterine Cervix 818 (100%)

Liver 483 (34%)

Stomach 694 (35%)

Nasopharynx 107 (87%)

Penis 38 (45%)

Hodgkin’s lymphoma 188 (33%)

NonRHodgkin’s lymphoma 163 (4%)

Kaposi’s sarcoma 80 (100%)

Hormones (menopausal hormone therapy R HRT)

Breast 453 (3%)

Endometrial 67 (3%)

Ovarian 19 (2%)

Oral contraceptives

Breast 105 (1%)

Cervical 52 (6%)

Inadequate breast feeding

Breast cancer 235 (2%)

 

7 October 2015.