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Smoking and being over 50 years old are the two most significant risk factors for cancer development, according to a recent study in the journal Cancer.
Other characteristics like exercise, diet, body mass index (BMI), and family ancestry of disease were all vital. In addition, the scientists said that tobacco use and age considerably impact someone’s risk factors for cancer.
The study researchers looked at data related to 429,990 individuals within the United States with no history of cancer, following up with each person for five years. Scientists figured out the factors linked to a greater than 2% absolute risk factors for cancer over a five-year.
The researchers wrote, “The risk factors for cancer within five years was [greater than 2%] no matter the risk factor profile for nearly all women and men aged 50 or older and could be as high as 25% in women, and 29% in men for some risk factors at the oldest ages. After the age factor, smoking history was the most significant risk factor for getting any cancer in five years.”
In total, 15,225 cancers were diagnosed in the study’s volunteers within five years of starting the survey, with uterine and breast cancer the most common in women and lung and prostate cancer being the most frequent in men.
After smoker and age status, the most significant risk factors for men were family history of cancer, physical inactivity, red meat consumption, and alcohol use.
For women, factors like hysterectomy, type 2 diabetes, BMI, and having children were all linked to an elevated five-year risk for all cancers.
For those men under 50, risks were greater than 2% in those aged 45 and over who had quit smoking less than 25 years ago or were currently smoking. The biggest chance of 2.7% applied to males in that age range exposed to all the above risk factors for cancer.
For women under 50, risks were above 2% at the age of 35 years for smokers, with a 5.9% risk calculated for women older than 45 exposed to multiple other risk factors for cancer.
Alpa Patel, the lead study author, said in a statement, “As we look at the chance that future tests can be able to find several types of cancer, researchers need to understand people who are the most at risk for developing any type of cancer.”
“The data types used aren’t widely available, but appropriate to inform future options for screening, like blood-based multi-cancer earlier detection exams that may help to save lives.”