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NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Measuring risk factors that can be modified to prevent cancer Volume 12 Issue 1

Helen Moore, Louisa Jorm, Philip Vita

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 12(1) 2 - 6 Published: 2001

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About the author/s

Helen Moore

Louisa Jorm

Philip Vita


Cancer is a diverse group of diseases characterised by the proliferation and spread of abnormal cells. Different forms of cancer can share common risk factors; however, often a unique set of risk factors are responsible for the onset of a particular cancer. Risk factors for cancer are both inherent, such as the inherited APC gene that predisposes individuals to develop colorectal cancers; and environmental, such as excessive sun exposure, particularly in childhood, which increases the risk of developing melanoma. Some risk factors are, theoretically at least, easier to modify than others (for example, quitting smoking as compared with inheriting the APC gene). This article deals with measuring the population prevalence of risk factors for which exposure can be modified to prevent the development of cancers.