Cancer Council Australia

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Risk factors

Around one third of cancers in Australia are caused by modifiable risk factors.

In this section, we explore the evidence on cancer risk factors and provide policy recommendations aimed at reducing their impact on Australia's cancer burden.

This information is designed for policy-makers, journalists and anyone with an interest in public policy on cancer prevention.

One in three cancers preventable

Cancer Council Australia has published the first ever comprehensive estimate of cancer incidence in Australia by modifiable risk factors - that is, the number of annual cancer cases attributable to known risk factors that can be controlled.

Published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health in October 2015, the study estimated that, in 2010 a total of 32% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia (37,000 of 117,000) were attributable to 13 factors.

Of those 13 risk factors, smoking, UV radiation, body weight, poor diet and alcohol were attributable for around 90% of preventable cancers.

The full series of articles, plus a summary and conclusions, are accessible free of charge.

For recommendations on cancer prevention in a public policy context, please view our National Cancer Prevention Policy.

Reducing personal risk

There are some simple steps you can take to minimise your cancer risk. So where do you start?

The seven steps to reducing your cancer risk are explained in the Cancer Council's cancer prevention lifestyle fact sheets.

This page was last updated on: Friday, October 11, 2019

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