(HealthDay News) — Age and smoking are the most important risk factors associated with the five-year risk for developing any cancer, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in Cancer.

Alpa V. Patel, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Kennesaw, Georgia, and colleagues used data from two prospective cohort studies (Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort and Cancer Prevention Study-3) to identify the risk factors associated with a >2 percent absolute risk for any cancer within five years.

A total of 429,991 participants with no personal history of cancer were followed for up to five years. Within five years of enrollment, 15,226 invasive cancers were diagnosed.

The strongest multivariable-adjusted relative risk for any cancer was seen for current smokers versus never-smokers. Other factors associated with cancer risk in men included alcohol intake, family history of cancer, red meat consumption, and physical inactivity. Other factors associated with cancer risk in women included body mass index, type 2 diabetes, hysterectomy, parity, family history of cancer, hypertension, tubal ligation, and physical inactivity.

The absolute five-year risk exceeded 2 percent for nearly all participants older than 50 years and for some participants younger than 50 years, including current or former smokers and long-term nonsmokers with a body mass index >25 kg/m² or a first-degree family history of cancer. The absolute five-year risk was as high as 29 and 25 percent in men and women, respectively.

“Our findings are encouraging as we are working to define subgroups in the general population who could benefit from enhanced cancer screening and prevention,” Patel said in a statement.

This analysis was supported by GRAIL, a subsidiary of Illumina; one author is employed by GRAIL, and a second author disclosed financial ties to industry.

Abstract/Full Text