The four cancer risk factors we investigated in this study were tobacco smoking, alcohol use, excess weight and physical inactivity. These risk factors are connected to lifestyle choices and are all preventable. H Krueger & Associates Inc. has developed a risk factor reduction model which allows us to predict what kind of outcomes we would see if all Canadians had healthier lifestyles.
Krueger H, Andres EM, Koot JM, Reilly BD. 2016. Current Oncology. Vol 23 No 4.
How much cancer could be prevented in Canada if these four risk factors were reduced across the country? What if each province could attain the lowest risk factor rate already exhibited in another province?
The purposes of this study were to:
Tobacco smoking was responsible for 15.2% of cancers across Canada. That equals 25,840 cases of cancer. Even though Canadians have made strides in reducing the prevalence and intensity of tobacco smoking, it still stood out as an enormous threat.
The three additional cancer risk factors that we analyzed represented a combined threat that was close to the level attributed to tobacco use.
About 5.1%, or 8,670 cases of cancer were caused by excess weight.
Our research revealed that 3.9%, or 6,630 cases of cancer were due to alcohol use.
Physical inactivity, the fourth lifestyle choice we studied, was tied to 3.5%, or 5,950 cases of cancer per year in Canada.
These four cancer risk factors were responsible for 47,000 cases of cancer per year. This was about 27.7% of all cases of cancer. The good news is that this rate has declined since 2000, when it was 30.1%
In our analysis, we focused on comparing provinces with each other. No province was at zero, but some were clearly more successful in reducing the cancer risk factors of tobacco smoking, excess weight, alcohol use and physical inactivity. We used the best scores as our benchmark.
If each province attained the lowest risk factor rate already exhibited in another province, there would be 6,204 less cases of cancer per year.
The 47,000 cases of cancer translate into an annual economic burden of $9.6 billion.
If Canadians had healthier lifestyles, we could save an average of $1.2 billion per year. This estimate was based on reducing the incidence of cancer by 6,204 cases per year.
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