Cancer risk factors in Poland: the PONS Study

Imre Janszky 1,  
Lars Vatten 1,  
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health, University Medical Center, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Cancer Centre and Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Cancer Centre and Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland; European Health Inequalities Observatory, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2011;18(2):251–254
Introduction: The burden of cancer in Eastern Europe is expected to increase, and in 2006, Polish males were ranked second in lifetime risk of lung cancer. The Polish-Norwegian Study (PONS) is a population study in the Kielce District, and the presented study describes the distribution of preventable causes of cancer according to gender, age, education, and urban/rural status. Methods: PONS comprises individuals 45-64 years of age at baseline. A structured lifestyle interview was conducted, and the following risk factors were recorded: smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity. Binomial regression analysis was used to estimate age and gender adjusted prevalence ratios (PR) for the associated factors. Results: A total of 3,862 adults were included in the analysis. Approximately 17% reported current tobacco smoking on a daily basis, 34% were former smokers, and 49% were non- smokers. Current smoking was more prevalent in males (20%) than females (15%), but there was no clear association with educational level or urban/rural status. Females also reported a lower frequency of alcohol consumption than males. Among males, 15% reported drinking alcohol more than once a week, as compared to 2% of the females. There was no clear association with urban/rural status, or with level of education. The total prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥30) was 30%; the prevalence of obesity class 2 (BMI ≥35) and class 3 (BMI ≥40) was 8% and 1.7%, respectively. Obesity increased by age, especially in females, and was less frequent among people with high education and people with urban residence. Conclusions: The Kielce region of Poland is experiencing a significant burden of cancer risk factors, including obesity and tobacco smoking, but smoking may be a decreasing habit. It is necessary to increase the awareness of the population to the harmful effects of smoking and obesity to prevent cancer and other lifestyle related diseases.