The causes of cancer in France

Boffetta, Paolo and Tubiana, M. and Hill, C. and Boniol, Matheiu and Aurengo, A. and Masse, R. and Valleron, A.-J. and Monier, R. and de The, G. and Boyle, P. and Autier, P. (2009) The causes of cancer in France. Annals of Oncology, 20. pp. 550-555. ISSN 1569-8041 (

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While external factors are responsible for many human cancers, precise estimates of the contribution of known carcinogens to the cancer burden in a given population have been scarce. We estimated the proportion of cancer deaths which occurred in France in 2000 attributable to known risk factors, based on data on frequency of exposure around 1985. In 2000, tobacco smoking was responsible for 23.9% of cancer deaths (33.4% in men and 9.6% in women), alcohol drinking for 6.9% (9.4% in men and 3.0% in women) and chronic infections for 3.7%. Occupation is responsible for 3.7% of cancer deaths in men; lack of physical activity, overweight/obesity and use of exogenous hormones are responsible for 2%–3% of cancer deaths in women. Other risk factors, including pollutants, are responsible for <1% of cancer deaths. Thus, known risk factors explain 35.0% of cancer deaths, and 15.0% among never smokers. While cancer mortality is decreasing in France, known risk factors of cancer explain only a minority of cancers, with a predominant role of tobacco smoking.