Lifestyle predictors of colorectal cancer in European populations: a systematic review

E Mertens, M Keuchkarian, MS Vasquez, S Vandevijvere, JL Peñalvo

    Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


    Background Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most prevalent cancer in Europe, with one-fifth of cases attributable to unhealthy lifestyles. Risk prediction models for quantifying CRC risk and identifying high-risk groups have been developed or validated across European populations, some considering lifestyle as a predictor.

    Purpose To identify lifestyle predictors considered in existing risk prediction models applicable for European populations and characterise their corresponding parameter values for an improved understanding of their relative contribution to prediction across different models.

    Methods A systematic review was conducted in PubMed and Web of Science from January 2000 to August 2021. Risk prediction models were included if (1) developed and/or validated in an adult asymptomatic European population, (2) based on non-invasively measured predictors and (3) reported mean estimates and uncertainty for predictors included. To facilitate comparison, model-specific lifestyle predictors were visualised using forest plots.

    Results A total of 21 risk prediction models for CRC (reported in 16 studies) were eligible, of which 11 were validated in a European adult population but developed elsewhere, mostly USA. All models but two reported at least one lifestyle factor as predictor. Of the lifestyle factors, the most common predictors were body mass index (BMI) and smoking (each present in 13 models), followed by alcohol (11), and physical activity (7), while diet-related factors were less considered with the most commonly present meat (9), vegetables (5) or dairy (2). The independent predictive contribution was generally greater when they were collected with greater detail, although a noticeable variation in effect size estimates for BMI, smoking and alcohol.

    Conclusions Early identification of high-risk groups based on lifestyle data offers the potential to encourage participation in lifestyle change and screening programmes, hence reduce CRC burden. We propose the commonly shared lifestyle predictors to be further used in public health prediction modelling for improved uptake of the model.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere000554
    JournalBMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


    • Preventive counselling


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