It has been estimated that at least a third of the most common cancers are related to lifestyle and as such are preventable. Key modifiable lifestyle factors have been individually associated with cancer risk; however, less is known about the combined effects of these factors. This study generated a healthy lifestyle index score (HLIS) to investigate the joint effect of modifiable factors on the risk of overall cancers, alcohol-related cancers, tobacco-related cancers, obesity-related cancers, and reproductive-related cancers. The study included 391,608 men and women from the multinational European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort. The HLIS was constructed from 5 factors assessed at baseline (diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and anthropometry) by assigning scores of 0 to 4 to categories of each factor, for which higher values indicate healthier behaviors. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated by Cox proportional regression and population attributable fractions (PAFs) estimated from the adjusted models. There was a 5% lower risk (adjusted HR 0.952, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.946, 0.958) of all cancers per point score of the index for men and 4% (adjusted HR 0.961, 95% CI: 0.956, 0.966) for women. The fourth versus the second category of the HLIS was associated with a 28% and 24% lower risk for men and women respectively across all cancers, 41% and 33% for alcohol-related, 49% and 46% for tobacco-related, 41% and 26% for obesity-related, and 21% for female reproductive cancers. Findings suggest simple behavior modifications could have a sizeable impact on cancer prevention, especially for men.


Journal article



Publication Date





e2850 - e2850


From the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon (FM, CB, PF, HF, SR, VC, IR), INSERM, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP) (LD), Paris South University, UMRS 1018 (LD), Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark (CCD, KO), Institute Gustave Roussy (LD), INSERM, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP), Villejuif, France (LD), Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, University of Athens Medical School (PL), Bureau of Epidemiologic Research, Academy of Athens (PL, DT), Hellenic Health Foundation, Athens, Greece (DT, AT), Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA (PL, DT), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven (HBBM), Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Medical Centre (HBBM), Julius Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands (AM, PHP), School of Public Health, Imperial College, London (HBBM, PHP), Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom (RCT), Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (HBBM), Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø (EW), Department of Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo, Norway (EW), Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm (EW), Department of Clinical Sciences in Malmö, Lund University, Lund, Sweden (UE, EW), Samfundet Folkhälsan, Helsinki, Finland (EW), CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), España (M-JS, CN, EA), Andalusian School of Public Health, University of Granada, Granada (M-JS), Department of Epidemiology, Murcia Regional Health Council (CN), Department of Health and Social Sciences, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia (CN), Navarra Public Health Institute (EA), and Navarra Institute for Health Research (IdiSNA), Pamplona, Spain (EA).


Humans, Neoplasms, Prognosis, Nutritional Support, Nutrition Surveys, Risk Assessment, Follow-Up Studies, Prospective Studies, Life Style, Behavior Therapy, Age Factors, Sex Factors, Health Status, Forecasting, Adult, Middle Aged, Europe, Female, Male