Adherence to the cancer prevention recommendations of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research and mortality: a census-linked cohort1

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Modifiable lifestyle factors linked to cancer offer great potential for prevention. Previous studies suggest an association between adherence to recommendations on healthy lifestyle and cancer mortality.


The aim of this study was to examine whether adherence to the cancer prevention recommendations of the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is associated with reduced all-cause, total cancer, and specific cancer type mortality.


We built a lifestyle score that included 3 categories, based on the recommendations of the WCRF/AICR. Applying Cox regression models, we investigated the association with all-cause, total cancer, and specific cancer type mortality; in addition, we included cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality. We used censusand death registry-linked survey data allowing a mortality followup for ≤32 y. Our analysis included 16,722 participants. Information on lifestyle score components and confounders was collected at baseline.


Over a mean follow-up of 21.7 y, 3730 deaths were observed (1332 cancer deaths). Comparing best with poorest category of the lifestyle score showed an inverse association with allcause (HR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.75, 0.89) and total cancer (men only, HR: 0.69; 95% CI: 0.57, 0.84) mortality. We estimated that ˜13% of premature cancer deaths in men would have been preventable if lifestyle score levels had been high. Inverse associations were observed for lung, upper aerodigestive tract, stomach, and prostate cancer mortality [men and women combined, HR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.51, 0.99; HR: 0.49; 95% CI: 0.26, 0.92; HR: 0.34; 95% CI: 0.14, 0.83; HR: 0.48; 95% CI: 0.28, 0.82 (men only), respectively]. CVD mortality was not associated with the lifestyle score (men and women combined, HR: 0.96; 95% CI: 0.82, 1.13).


Our results support the importance of adhering to recommendations for a healthy lifestyle with regard to all-cause and cancer mortality. To reduce the burden of cancer in the population, preventive measures should stress the potential of low-risk health behavior patterns rather than of specific risk factors only.

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