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Ann Epidemiol. 2012 Jul;22(7):511-9. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.04.005. Epub 2012 May 8.

Influence of family history of colorectal cancer on health behavior and performance of early detection procedures: the SUN Project.

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Group of Epidemiology and Computational Biology, University of Cantabria, Santander, Spain.



The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between family history of colorectal cancer and both health behavior and screening procedures in a population cohort.


This study is a cross-sectional analysis of 15,169 participants belonging to a prospective cohort study (the SUN Project) based on two self-reported questionnaires: one of them related to lifestyle and the other a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. We explored the influence of family history of colorectal cancer in lifestyles (consumption of alcohol, weight, and diet) and medical management behaviors (screening of chronic diseases).


People with family history of colorectal cancer increased their number of colorectal cancer screening tests (adjusted odds ratio for fecal occult blood test: 1.98, 95% confidence interval: 1.48-2.65; and adjusted odds ratio for colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy: 3.42, 2.69-4.36); nevertheless, health behavior changes in diet of relatives of colorectal cancer patients were undetectable.


We show that individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer increase their compliance with screening tests, although they exhibit no better health-related behaviors than people without family history of colorectal cancer. Further prospective studies are required to confirm these results and to identify tools to empower the subjects to change their risk profile.

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