Lifestyle and cancer incidence and mortality risk depending on family history of cancer in two prospective cohorts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The extent to which a favorable lifestyle may lower cancer risk in subjects with a family history of cancer is unknown. We conducted a prospective study in two Swedish cohorts, the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study (MDCS; n = 25,604) and the Malmö Preventive Project (MPP; n = 16,216). The association between a favorable lifestyle (based on nonsmoking, normal weight, absence of excessive drinking, regular physical activity and healthy diet) and cancer incidence and mortality risk was assessed using Cox regression stratified by family history of cancer (all types). A favorable lifestyle was associated with a 22% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 18–26%) and 40% (95% CI: 36–44%) lower risk of cancer incidence and mortality, respectively, compared to an unfavorable lifestyle. No significant effect modification by family history was observed but there was a null association between lifestyle and cancer incidence among subjects with two or more affected first-degree relatives. The observed relative risk estimates comparing an unfavorable with a favorable lifestyle corresponded to standardized 10-year cancer incidence rates of 11.2 vs. 9.5% in the MDCS, and 4.4 vs. 3.2% in the MPP, and a reduction in 20-year cancer mortality rate from 11.7% to 7.4% in the MDCS and 6.7% to 3.9% in the MPP. Improved adherence to cancer prevention recommendations may reduce cancer incidence and mortality risk in the general population, however, further studies are needed to assess the impact of lifestyle on cancer incidence among subjects with strong familial or polygenic risk for specific cancers.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • cancer, cohort, family history, lifestyle
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1198-1207
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Early online date2019 May 11
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 1
Publication categoryResearch