Population-attributable causes of cancer in Korea : obesity and physical inactivity

Park, Sohee and Kim, Yeonju and Shin, Hai-Rim and Lee, Boram and Shin, Aesun and Jung, Kyu-Won and Jee, Sun Ha and Kim, Dong Hyun and Yun, Young Ho and Park, Sue Kyung and Boniol, Mathieu and Boffetta, Paolo (2014) Population-attributable causes of cancer in Korea : obesity and physical inactivity. PLOS One, 9 (4). e90871. ISSN 1932-6203

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    Changes in lifestyle including obesity epidemic and reduced physical activity influenced greatly to increase the cancer burden in Korea. The purpose of the current study was to perform a systematic assessment of cancers attributable to obesity and physical inactivity in Korea. Gender- and cancer site-specific population-attributable fractions (PAF) were estimated using the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 1992-1995 from a large-scale prospective cohort study, the prevalence of low physical activity in 1989 from a Korean National Health Examination Survey, and pooled relative risk estimates from Korean epidemiological studies. The overall PAF was then estimated using 2009 national cancer incidence data from the Korea Central Cancer Registry. Excess body weight was responsible for 1,444 (1.5%) and 2,004 (2.2%) cancer cases among men and women, respectively, in 2009 in Korea. Among men, 6.8% of colorectal, 2.9% of pancreatic, and 16.0% of kidney cancer was attributable to excess body weight. In women, 6.6% of colorectal, 3.9% of pancreatic, 18.7% of kidney, 8.2% of postmenopausal breast, and 32.7% of endometrial cancer was attributable to excess body weight. Low leisure-time physical activity accounted for 8.8% of breast cancer, whereas the PAF for overall cancer was low (0.1% in men, 1.4% in women). Projections suggest that cancers attributable to obesity will increase by 40% in men and 16% in women by 2020. With a significantly increasing overweight and physically inactive population, and increasing incidence of breast and colorectal cancers, Korea faces a large cancer burden attributable to these risk factors. Had the obese population of Korea remained stable, a large portion of obesity-related cancers could have been avoided. Efficient cancer prevention programs that aim to reduce obesity- and physical inactivity-related health problems are essential in Korea.