Whilst the causes of most cancers are not fully understood, some well recognised factors place individuals at risk for cancer. Risk factors for cancer include non-modifiable factors such as age, race and gender and modifiable factors such as tobacco use, obesity, inadequate nutrition and physical activity; exposure to ultraviolet radiation and occupational carcinogens and alcohol consumption.13, 14
- The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) estimated that 32.9% of the cancer burden (years of life lost to premature death and disability) in Australia in 2003 was due to 10 modifiable risk factors predominantly linked to lifestyle.13
- Tobacco smoking was estimated to directly cause 11.1% of new cases of reportable cancers and nearly 20.4% of all cancer deaths in Australia in 2003.13
- It is estimated that 5% to 10% of the common cancers are due to a familial or inherited tendency.13
Figure 3: Risk factors for cancer15
National Cancer Prevention Policy. Cancer Council Australia, 201414
Cancer Council Australia eLearning courses:
- Working indoors – a SunSmart balance for vitamin D and skin cancer prevention (free resource, requires login).
- kNOw asbestos in your home (free resource, requires login).
Select a commonly occurring cancer in Australia. Summarise the evidence available for factors implicated in increasing risk of developing this cancer.
Access the Familial Risk Assessment FRA-BOC16 on-line tool.
- If you are female, complete a self-assessment with the tools.
- Describe the role of such tools in cancer risk reduction.