Open Access Open Badges Research article

Public awareness of risk factors for cancer among the Japanese general population: A population-based survey

Manami Inoue*, Motoki Iwasaki, Tetsuya Otani, Shizuka Sasazuki and Shoichiro Tsugane

Author Affiliations

Epidemiology and Prevention Division, Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, National Cancer Center, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:2  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-2

Published: 10 January 2006



The present study aimed to provide information on awareness of the attributable fraction of cancer causes among the Japanese general population.


A nationwide representative sample of 2,000 Japanese aged 20 or older was asked about their perception and level of concern about various environmental and genetic risk factors in relation to cancer prevention, as a part of an Omnibus Survey. Interviews were conducted with 1,355 subjects (609 men and 746 women).


Among 12 risk factor candidates, the attributable fraction of cancer-causing viral and bacterial infection was considered highest (51%), followed by that of tobacco smoking (43%), stress (39%), and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (37%). On the other hand, the attributable fractions of cancer by charred fish and meat (21%) and alcohol drinking (22%) were considered low compared with other risk factor candidates. For most risk factors, attributable fraction responses were higher in women than in men. As a whole, the subjects tended to respond with higher values than those estimated by epidemiologic evidence in the West. The attributable fraction of cancer speculated to be genetically determined was 32%, while 36% of cancer was considered preventable by improving lifestyle.


Our results suggest that awareness of the attributable fraction of cancer causes in the Japanese general population tends to be dominated by cancer-causing infection, occupational exposure, air pollution and food additives rather than major lifestyle factors such as diet.