INTRODUCTION: Cancer is a multifactor disease. Besides genetic factors, environmental and behavioral factors contribute for disease development. It is estimated that around one-third of all deaths from cancer worldwide, is associated to potentially modifiable lifestyle behaviors, such as tobacco use, low fruits and vegetables consumption, physical inactivity, overweight and excess alcohol consumption. Frequently, lifestyle risk factors do not happen isolated. They are strongly associated and their synergism may increase the risk of development of certain types of cancer. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe occurrence of multiple lifestyle risk factors associated to cancer in Brazil. METHODS: The study population was derived from the Household Survey on Non-Communicable Diseases Risk Factors and Self-reported Morbidity in Brazil. This was a two-stage cross-sectional study conducted in 18 Brazilian cities during 2002-2004. For the analysis, we included data on: socio-demographic characteristics and five lifestyle factors - overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2), low fruits and vegetable consumption (< 5 times/day in most days of the week), physical inactivity (< 150 minutes physical activity/week), tobacco use (smoked ≥ 100 cigarettes in life and currently smokes) and alcohol use (>2 drinks for men and 1 form women). Each individual were classified according to the number of risk factors present. A total of 13909 individuals 18 to 69 years old with information on the selected risk factors were included. RESULTS: Of the total population, 46.6% were men and 53.4% women. Age distribution and education level was very similar between men and women, with a higher proportion of individuals with more years of schooling (64.2%). Almost 70% of the individuals had at least 2 risk factors (63.8% had 2 or 3 and 5.7% had 4 or 5) and only 1.8% had no risk factor. However, since low fruit and vegetables consumption was very prevalent in this population, excluding this risk factor, the percentage of subjects that had no risk factor rises to 18.2%. Prevalence of at least two risk factors was higher among men (71.9% men and 67.4% women), older subjects (74.9% - 50 or + y.o, 68.7% - 25 to 49 y.o. and 56.3% - 18 to 24) and the less educated (73.9% among those with less than 8 years and 67.3% among those with more than 8 years). CONCLUSION: Overall, the prevalence of multiple risk factors was high, but it was even higher among some population subgroups. These findings suggest that when planning future health promotion strategies special consideration should be given to these groups and multiple lifestyle behaviors approaches may be better than single-behavior interventions.
- American Association for Cancer Research