Attributable causes of colorectal cancer in China

BMC Cancer. 2018 Jan 5;18(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s12885-017-3968-z.


Background: Colorectal cancer is the 4th common cancer in China. Most colorectal cancers are due to modifiable lifestyle factors, but few studies have provided a systematic evidence-based assessment of the burden of colorectal cancer incidence and mortality attributable to the known risk factors in China.

Methods: We estimated the population attributable faction (PAF) for each selected risk factor in China, based on the prevalence of exposure around 2000 and relative risks from cohort studies and meta-analyses.

Results: Among 245,000 new cases and 139,000 deaths of colorectal cancer in China in 2012, we found that 115,578 incident cases and 63,102 deaths of colorectal cancer were attributable to smoking, alcohol drinking, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and dietary factors. Low vegetable intake was the main risk factor for colorectal cancer with a PAF of 17.9%. Physical inactivity was responsible for 8.9% of colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. The remaining factors, including high red and processed meat intake, low fruit intake, alcohol drinking, overweight/obesity and smoking, accounted for 8.6%, 6.4%, 5.4%, 5.3% and 4.9% of colorectal cancer, respectively. Overall, 45.5% of colorectal cancer incidence and mortality were attributable to the joint effects of these seven risk factors.

Conclusions: Tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, low vegetable intake, low fruit intake, and high red and processed meat intake were responsible for nearly 46% of colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in China in 2012. Our findings could provide a basis for developing guidelines of colorectal cancer prevention and control in China.

Keywords: China; Colorectal cancer; Population attributable fraction; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • China / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / mortality
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / mortality
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects