Estimates of future cancer mortality attributable to modifiable risk factors in Canada Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: Modifiable lifestyle, environmental, and infectious risk factors associated with cancer impact both cancer incidence and mortality at the population level. Most studies estimating this burden focus on cancer incidence. However, because these risk factors are associated with cancers of disparate mortality rates, the burden associated with cancer incidence could differ from cancer mortality. Therefore, estimating the cancer mortality attributable to these risk factors provides additional insight into cancer prevention. Here, we estimated future cancer deaths and the number of avoidable deaths in Canada due to modifiable risk factors. METHODS: The projected cancer mortality data came from OncoSim, a web-based microsimulation tool. These data were applied to the methodological framework that we previously used to estimate the population attributable risks and the potential impact fractions of modifiable risk factors on Canadian cancer incidence. RESULTS: We estimated that most cancer deaths will be attributed to tobacco smoking with an average of 27,900 deaths annually from 2024 to 2047. If Canada's current trends in excess body weight continue, cancer deaths attributable to excess body weight would double from 2786 deaths in 2024 to 5604 deaths in 2047, becoming the second leading modifiable cause of cancer death. Applying targets to reduce these risk factors, up to 34,600 cancer deaths could be prevented from 2024 to 2047. CONCLUSION: Our simulated results complement our previous findings on the cancer incidence burden since decreasing the overall burden of cancer will be accelerated through a combination of decreasing cancer incidence and improving survival outcomes through improved treatments.


  • Pader, Joy
  • Ruan, Yibing
  • Poirier, Abbey E
  • Asakawa, Keiko
  • Lu, Chaohui
  • Memon, Saima
  • Miller, Anthony
  • Walter, Stephen
  • Villeneuve, Paul J
  • King, Will D
  • Volesky, Karena D
  • Smith, Leah
  • De, Prithwish
  • Friedenreich, Christine M
  • Brenner, Darren R

publication date

  • December 2021