According to a study by researchers from the American Cancer Society, the biggest risk factors for developing any type of cancer were being a smoker and being older age.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 430,000 people who took part in two health large health surveys: the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort and the Cancer Prevention Study-3. None of the participants had a previous history of cancer.
The participants were monitored over a five-year period to determine the biggest risks for developing cancer. Although there were several factors that were taken into consideration, the two that were highlighted as the biggest risks were smoking status and being older in age.
For current or former smokers who had quit in the last 30 years, the risk was 25% higher for women and nearly 30% higher for men. The risks for the over-50s were at a similar level. Some other risk factors included a lack of physical activity and a family history of cancer.
There were also some gender-specific factors found in the study. For example, alcohol intake and high red meat consumption were found to be risk factors for men. For women, a high body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and having a hysterectomy or tubal ligation all increase the risks of cancer.
Researcher Dr. Alpa Patel said: “Single cancer type-specific screening recommendations are based on risk factors for that specific type of cancer. Our findings are encouraging as we are working to define subgroups in the general population who could benefit from enhanced cancer screening and prevention.
As we consider the possibility that future tests may be able to identify several types of cancer, we need to begin understanding who is most at risk for developing any type of cancer. These types of data are not widely available, but necessary to inform future screening options, such as blood-based multi-cancer early detection tests that could help save lives”