Background: Population-based Utah Cancer Registry data were linked with Latter-day Saint (LDS or Mormon) Church membership records to obtain site-specific cancer incidence for LDS and non-LDS populations in Utah during 1995-1999.
Methods: Analyses were based on 27,631 incident cases of cancer identified among whites. Restriction to whites was made because of the small number of nonwhites, approximately 5%, in the state during the study period. The direct method was used to age-adjust the rates to the 2000 U.S. standard population.
Results: Significantly lower cancer incidence rates per 100,000 were observed among LDS compared with non-LDS males (287.2 vs. 321.1) and females (247.7 vs. 341.0). The lower rates are primarily explained by smoking-related cancers and female breast cancer. If the overall cancer incidence rate in LDS had occurred in the non-LDS population, 2.9% or 421 fewer cases would have occurred among males and 7.9% or 1,025 fewer cases would have occurred among females during the study period.
Conclusions: Given our current knowledge of risk factors for cancer, differences between LDS and non-LDS in smoking for males and smoking and sexual and reproductive behaviors in females primarily explain the lower risk of cancer in LDS populations.