Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


3. MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES, Oncology, Health care sciences and services, Nutrition, Dietetics


Aim This observational ecological study aims to compare Ireland’s age-specific cancer incidence rates (ASRs) with equivalent European and global data and to highlight possible dietary, nutritional and lifestyle contributors to cancer in Ireland.

Subjects and methods Using the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) GLOBOCAN database, Irish ASRs for all-site cancer and for "lifestyle-related" cancers such as those of the colo-rectum, oesophagus, breast, lung and prostate were compared with European and global incidence data. Irish dietary and nutrient intake data were reviewed and evaluated in the context of these cancer incidence data and in relation to the established dietary, nutritional, lifestyle and anthropometric predictors of increased cancer risk previously articulated in the literature.

Results Incidence rates of colorectal, oesophageal, breast, lung, prostate and all-site cancer are higher in Ireland than in most other countries. National nutrition surveys in Ireland indicate that dietary, nutritional, lifestyle and anthropometric risk factors for cancer occur with high frequency in the Irish population. For example, low fruit and vegetable consumption, high red and processed meat intake, low fish intake, low dairy consumption, high saturated fat intake, low folate and vitamin D intakes, and excessive alcohol consumption are all common amongst Irish adults.

Conclusions Our data suggest that unfavourable diet and nutrient intakes prevail in Ireland and that these may contribute to Ireland’s excess cancer burden. These risk factors should be targeted by interventions seeking to sustainably redress Ireland’s high cancer incidence. Such initiatives may provide a template for intervention in other high-risk countries.