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Prevalence of Modifiable Cancer Risk Factors Among U.S. Adults Aged 18–44 Years
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  • Alternative Title:
    Am J Prev Med
  • Description:

    Carcinogen exposure and unhealthy habits acquired in young adulthood can set the stage for the development of cancer at older ages. This study measured the current prevalence of several cancer risk factors among young adults to assess opportunities to intervene to change the prevalence of these risk factors and potentially reduce cancer incidence.


    Using 2015 National Health Interview Survey data (analyzed in 2016), the prevalence of potential cancer risk factors was estimated among U.S. adults aged 18–44 years, based on responses to questions about diet, physical activity, tobacco product use, alcohol, indoor tanning, sleep, human papillomavirus vaccine receipt, and obesity, stratified by sex, age, and race/ethnicity.


    The prevalence of some risk factors varied by age and race/ethnicity. Obesity (one in four people) and insufficient sleep (one in three people) were common among men and women. Physical inactivity (one in five men, one in four women); binge drinking (one in four men, one in eight women); cigarette smoking (one in five men, one in seven women); and frequent consumption of red meat (one in four men, one in six women) also were common. More than half of the population of adults aged 18–44 years consumed sugar-sweetened beverages daily and processed meat at least once a week. Most young adults had never had the human papillomavirus vaccine.


    Findings can be used to target evidence-based environmental and policy interventions to reduce the prevalence of cancer risk factors among young adults and prevent the development of future cancers.

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