Int J Cancer. 2022 Aug 10. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34237. Online ahead of print.
Colon cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in women in Norway, where incidence rates of colon cancer increased 3-fold between 1955 and 2014, for unknown reasons. We aimed to assess the burden of colon cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in Norwegian women using the data from the Norwegian Women and Cancer (NOWAC) study. Self-reported information from 35 525 women from the NOWAC study were available. These included the following exposures: smoking status, alcohol consumption, body mass index, physical activity, intake of calcium, fibers, and red and processed meat. Colon cancer cases were identified from the Cancer Registry of Norway. A parametric piecewise constant hazards model was used to estimate the strength of exposure-cancer associations. Population attributable fractions with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated considering competing risk of death. The fraction of incident colon cancer attributable to ever smoking was 18.7% (95% CI 4.7%-30.6%), low physical activity 10.8% (95% CI -0.7% to 21.0%), alcohol consumption 14.5% (95% CI -2.8% to 28.9%), and low intake of calcium 10.0% (95% CI -7.8% to 24.8%). A small proportion of colon cancer cases was attributable to combined intake of red and processed meat over 500 g/week, overweight/obesity, and low intake of fibers. Jointly, these seven risk factors could explain 46.0% (95% CI 23.0%-62.4%) of the colon cancer incidence burden. Between 23% and 62% of the colon cancer burden among women in Norway was attributable to modifiable risk factors, indicating an important preventive potential of a healthy lifestyle.