Journal: Cancer epidemiology
People are exposed throughout life to a wide range of environmental and occupational pollutants from different sources at home, in the workplace or in the general environment - exposures that normally cannot be directly controlled by the individual. Several chemicals, metals, dusts, fibres, and occupations have been established to be causally associated with an increased risk of specific cancers, such as cancers of the lung, skin and urinary bladder, and mesothelioma. Significant amounts of air pollutants - mainly from road transport and industry - continue to be emitted in the European Union (EU); an increased occurrence of lung cancer has been attributed to air pollution even in areas below the EU limits for daily air pollution. Additionally, a wide range of pesticides as well as industrial and household chemicals may lead to widespread human exposure, mainly through food and water. For most environmental pollutants, the most effective measures are regulations and community actions aimed at reducing and eliminating the exposures. Thus, it is imperative to raise awareness about environmental and occupational carcinogens in order to motivate individuals to be proactive in advocating protection and supporting initiatives aimed at reducing pollution. Regulations are not homogeneous across EU countries, and protective measures in the workplace are not used consistently by all workers all the time; compliance with regulations needs to be continuously monitored and enforced. Therefore, the recommendation on Environment and Occupation of the 4th edition of the European Code against Cancer, focusing on what individuals can do to reduce their cancer risk, reads: “In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.”
The association between obesity surgery (OS) and cancer risk remains unclear. We investigated this association across the English National Health Service. A population-based Swedish study has previously suggested that OS may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC).
Physical activity is associated with lower risk of colon and breast cancers. Herein we estimated preventable fractions of colon and breast cancers in Brazil by increasing population-wide physical activity to different counterfactual scenarios.
Most symptomatic women with breast cancer have relatively short diagnostic intervals but a substantial minority experience prolonged journeys to diagnosis. Atypical presentations (with symptoms other than breast lump) may be responsible.
In view of the growing global obesity epidemic, this paper reviews the relation between recent trends in body mass index (BMI) and the changing profile of cancer worldwide. By examining seven selected countries, each representing a world region, a pattern of increasing BMI with region and gender-specific diversity is noted: increasing levels of BMI were most pronounced in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia), rather modest in Eastern Asia (India) and generally more rapid in females than in males. This observation translates into a disproportionate distribution of cancer attributable to high levels of BMI, ranging by sex from 4-9% in Saudi Arabia and from 0.2-1.2% in India. Overweight and obesity may also influence cancer outcomes, and hence have a varying impact on cancer survival and death in different world regions. Future challenges in cancer studies exploring the association with overweight and obesity concern the measurement of adiposity and its potentially cumulative effect over the life course. Given the limitations of BMI as an imperfect measure of body fatness, routine anthropometric data collection needs to be extended to develop more informative measures, such as waist circumference in settings where the gold standard tools remain unaffordable. Furthermore, questions surrounding the dose-response and timing of obesity and their associations with cancer remain to be answered. Improved surveillance of health risk factors including obesity as well as the scale and profile of cancer in every country of the world is urgently needed. This will enable the design of cost-effective actions to curb the growing burden of cancer related to excess body weight.
Lifestyle factors, including diet, have long been recognised as potentially important determinants of cancer risk. In addition to the significant role diet plays in affecting body fatness, a risk factor for several cancers, experimental studies have indicated that diet may influence the cancer process in several ways. Prospective studies have shown that dietary patterns characterised by higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods, and lower intakes of red and processed meats and salt, are related to reduced risks of death and cancer, and that a healthy diet can improve overall survival after diagnosis of breast and colorectal cancers. There is evidence that high intakes of fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancers of the aerodigestive tract, and the evidence that dietary fibre protects against colorectal cancer is convincing. Red and processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Diets rich in high-calorie foods, such as fatty and sugary foods, may lead to increased calorie intake, thereby promoting obesity and leading to an increased risk of cancer. There is some evidence that sugary drinks are related to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Taking this evidence into account, the 4th edition of the European Code against Cancer recommends that people have a healthy diet to reduce their risk of cancer: they should eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits; limit high-calorie foods (foods high in sugar or fat); avoid sugary drinks and processed meat; and limit red meat and foods high in salt.
This overview describes the principles of the 4th edition of the European Code against Cancer and provides an introduction to the 12 recommendations to reduce cancer risk. Among the 504.6 million inhabitants of the member states of the European Union (EU28), there are annually 2.64 million new cancer cases and 1.28 million deaths from cancer. It is estimated that this cancer burden could be reduced by up to one half if scientific knowledge on causes of cancer could be translated into successful prevention. The Code is a preventive tool aimed to reduce the cancer burden by informing people how to avoid or reduce carcinogenic exposures, adopt behaviours to reduce the cancer risk, or to participate in organised intervention programmes. The Code should also form a base to guide national health policies in cancer prevention. The 12 recommendations are: not smoking or using other tobacco products; avoiding second-hand smoke; being a healthy body weight; encouraging physical activity; having a healthy diet; limiting alcohol consumption, with not drinking alcohol being better for cancer prevention; avoiding too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation; avoiding cancer-causing agents at the workplace; reducing exposure to high levels of radon; encouraging breastfeeding; limiting the use of hormone replacement therapy; participating in organised vaccination programmes against hepatitis B for newborns and human papillomavirus for girls; and participating in organised screening programmes for bowel cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.
It is estimated that over half the population of the European Union (EU) is overweight or obese due to an imbalance between energy expenditure and energy intake; this is related to an obesogenic environment of sociocultural, economic and marketing challenges to the control of body weight. Excess body fat is associated with nine cancer sites - oesophagus, colorectum, gall bladder, pancreas, postmenopausal breast, endometrium, ovary, kidney and prostate (advanced) - and 4-38% of these cancers (depending on site and gender) can be attributed to overweight/obesity status. Metabolic alterations which accompany excess body weight are accompanied by increased levels of inflammation, insulin, oestrogens and other hormonal factors. There are some indications that intentional weight loss is associated with reduced cancer incidence (notably in postmenopausal breast and endometrial cancers). Excess body weight is also a risk factor for several other diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, and is related to higher risk of premature death. In reviewing the current evidence related to excess body fat and cancer, the European Code against Cancer Nutrition Working Group has developed the following recommendation: ‘Take action to be a healthy body weight’.
Alcohol consumption is the third leading risk factor for disease and mortality in Europe. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs provide strengthened evidence that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is causally associated with cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and female breast, even for low and moderate alcohol intakes. The risk of cancer increases in a dose-dependent manner, and the higher the amount of alcohol consumed, the higher the risk of developing cancer. Several biological mechanisms explain the carcinogenicity of alcohol; among them, ethanol and its genotoxic metabolite acetaldehyde play a major role. Taking all this evidence into account, a recommendation of the 4th edition of the European Code against Cancer (ECAC) is: “If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.”
Introduction: This paper presents race-specific breast cancer mortality rates and the corresponding rate ratios for the 50 largest U.S. cities for each of the 5-year intervals between 1990 and 2009. Methods: The 50 largest cities in the U.S. were the units of analysis. Numerator data were abstracted from national death files where the cause was malignant neoplasm of the breast (ICD-9=174 and ICD-10=C50) for women. Population-based denominators were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau for 1990, 2000, and 2010. To measure the racial disparity, we calculated non-Hispanic Black:non-Hispanic White rate ratios (RRs) and confidence intervals for each 5-year period. Results: At the final time point (2005-2009), two RRs were less than 1, but neither significantly so, while 39 RRs were >1, 23 of them significantly so. Of the 41 cities included in the analysis, 35 saw an increase in the Black:White RR between 1990-1994 and 2005-2009. In many of the cities, the increase in the disparity occurred because White rates improved substantially over the 20-year study period, while Black rates did not. There were 1710 excess Black deaths annually due to this disparity in breast cancer mortality, for an average of about 5 each day. Conclusion: This analysis revealed large and growing disparities in Black:White breast cancer mortality in the U.S. and many of its largest cities during the period 1990-2009. Much work remains to achieve equality in breast cancer mortality outcomes.