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Eur J Cancer. 2010 Sep;46(14):2534-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.07.049.

Prevalence of main cancer lifestyle risk factors in Europe in 2000.

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International Prevention Research Institute, 95 cours Lafayette, 69006 Lyon cedex 06, France.



Estimation of changes in cancer incidence possibly induced by primary prevention policies requires knowledge of the level of exposure to risk factors targeted by these policies.


We collected comparable exposure data from 30 European countries for five lifestyle cancer risk factors: tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, overweight and obesity, physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption. We obtained original reports for years 1995-2005 and the present manuscript reports results around year 2000.


This work revealed the important heterogeneity in the quality and possibility to compare data between and within countries. Overall, we observed a clustering of lifestyle factors: highest tobacco consumption in Eastern Europe up to 61.6% in men in Latvia; high alcohol consumption in central Europe, particularly in Czech Republic in which the average daily consumption was 56.9 g/l in men and 14.6g/l in women; low fruit and vegetable consumption (less than 150 g/d) in Finland, Sweden, Norway and United Kingdom. Obesity was the most prevalent and exceeded 18% for men in United Kingdom, Malta and Greece; and for women in UK, Greece, Luxembourg and Hungary.


We conclude that data on tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption are reasonably comparable and match the pattern of cancer incidence. Interpretation of data related to physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption should be cautious because of considerable between-country variations in the way these data were collected. Recent efforts for harmonisation of health survey questionnaires and sampling methods across European countries should be pursued in order to increase comparability of results.

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