Adherence to Cancer Prevention Guidelines and Cancer Risk in Low-Income and African American Populations

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 May;25(5):846-53. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-1186. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


Background: The American Cancer Society (ACS) publishes behavioral guidelines for cancer prevention, including standards on body weight, physical activity, nutrition, alcohol, and tobacco use. The impact of these guidelines has been rarely studied in low-income and African American populations.

Methods: The study included 61,098 racially diverse, mainly low-income adults who participated in the Southern Community Cohort Study and were followed for a median of 6 years. Cox models were used to estimate HRs for cancer incidence associated with behaviors and with an ACS physical activity/nutrition 0-to-4 compliance score indicating the number of body weight, physical activity, healthy eating, and alcohol guidelines met.

Results: During the study period, 2,240 incident cancers were identified. Significantly lower cancer incidence was found among never smokers and non/moderate alcohol drinkers, but not among those meeting guidelines for obesity, physical activity, and diet. The ACS compliance score was inversely associated with cancer risk among the 25,509 participants without baseline chronic disease. HRs for cancer incidence among those without baseline chronic diseases and who met one, two, three, or four guidelines versus zero guidelines were 0.93 (95% confidence intervals, 0.71-1.21), 0.85 (0.65-1.12), 0.70 (0.51-0.97), and 0.55 (0.31-0.99), respectively. Associations were consistent in analyses stratified by sex, race, household income, and smoking status.

Conclusions: Meeting the ACS smoking and body weight/physical activity/dietary/alcohol guidelines for cancer prevention is associated with reductions in cancer incidence in low-income and African American populations.

Impact: This study provides strong evidence supporting lifestyle modification to lower cancer incidence in these underserved populations. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 25(5); 846-53. ©2016 AACR.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Black or African American*
  • Body Weight
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Poverty*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Smoking
  • United States