Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to inadequate consumption of fruit, non-starchy vegetables and dietary fibre

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Abstract

Objectives:

To estimate the number and proportion of cancers occurring in Australia in 2010 attributable to consumption deficits in fruit, non-starchy vegetables and dietary fibre.

Methods:

We estimated the population attributable fraction (PAF) for cancers causally associated with inadequate intake of fruit and non-starchy vegetables (oral cavity, pharynx, oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma, stomach, larynx); inadequate intake of fruit (lung); and insufficient intake of fibre (colorectum). We used standard formulae incorporating prevalence of exposure (1995 National Nutrition Survey) and relative risks from independent studies.

Results:

Overall, 1,555 (1.4% of all) and 311 (0.3% of all) cancers were attributable to inadequate intakes of fruit and non-starchy vegetables, respectively. A further 2,609 colorectal cancers (18% of colorectal) were attributable to insufficient fibre intake. If Australians increased their fibre intake by eating the recommended daily intakes of fruit and vegetables, an estimated 1,293 (8.8%) colorectal cancers could be prevented.

Conclusions:

One in six colorectal cancer cases was attributable to inadequate intake of dietary fibre and about 1,800 cancers at other sites were attributable to insufficient fruit and non-starchy vegetable consumption.

Implications:

Increasing the proportion of Australians who consume the recommended intake of fruit, vegetables and fibre could prevent up to 4% of all cancers.

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