Several modifiable lifestyle and environmental factors have been consistently associated with cancer at multiple sites. Presently, no overall estimates of the proportion of cancers attributable to these factors exist among Canadian populations. In collaboration with the Alberta Cancer Prevention Legacy Fund (ACPLF) Dr. Brenner and his research team is working to estimate the proportion of total and site-specific cancers attributable to these factors in Alberta.

Dr. Brenner and his research team are using population attributable risk (PAR) methods to estimate the proportions of attributable cancers to exposures of interest. Lifestyle factors of interest include: tobacco; overweight/obesity; physical inactivity; oral contraceptives; hormone replacement therapy; infections; insufficient intake of fruits, vegetables, fibre, vitamin D and dietary calcium; and excess intakes of alcohol, salt and red and processed meat. Environmental factors of interest included exposure to: ultraviolet radiation; air pollution; medical radiation; occupational exposures; radon; and disinfection by-products.

In order to estimate the PARs we are conducting systematic literature searches to identify risk estimates from recent meta-analyses and global collaborative panels to characterize the associations between risk factors of interest and various cancers. The population exposure prevalence of the included risk factors are being obtained from population surveys, administrative databases, patient population data and published literature. Age-sex-site-specific cancer incidence has been obtained from the Alberta Cancer Registry for the year 2012.

This study will produce the most comprehensive dataset of its kind ever in Alberta based on the most up-to-date epidemiologic evidence of cancer risk and strongest exposure prevalence data available. This information will be used by the ACPLF for multiple knowledge translation activities including the ACPLF website www.albertapreventscancer.ca. Our results will be of great interest to additional public health programs and stakeholders that aim to increase cancer prevention awareness and alter the prevalence of exposure to adverse risk factors being examined in this project. Substantial proportions of cancer incidence at major cancer sites could therefore be prevented through additional strategies to impact the prevalence of these factors.