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Prevention statistics

The Canadian Population Attributable Risk of Cancer (ComPARe) study looks at more than 30 cancer types in Canada and estimates what number and percentage of cases in 2015 were due to more than 20 modifiable lifestyle, environmental and infectious agent risk factors. The study also estimates how changes in the prevalence of these risk factors could impact cancer incidence in the future by 2042. Estimates are presented by sex, age and geography where possible.

The ComPARe study is the first of its kind in Canada, providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date estimates of the preventable burden of cancer in Canada. The study’s findings are expected to have an important impact on cancer prevention decision-making in Canada. Led by co-principal investigators Dr Christine Friedenreich and Dr Darren Brenner, the ComPARe study brought together a pan-Canadian team of experts in epidemiology, biostatistics, cancer risk factors, cancer prevention and knowledge translation.

The ComPARe study was funded by and done in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society. This helped maximize its impact on cancer prevention in Canada by increasing the relevance, reach and uptake of the results. The findings were released in May 2019.

Dr Paul Demers (a co-investigator on the ComPARe study) led a separate study that estimates the burden of cancer due to occupational exposures in Canada. Given the important contribution of occupational exposure on the burden of cancer in Canada, those results were incorporated into many of the dissemination products developed for the ComPARe study.

Key statistics

About 4 in 10 cancer cases can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Canadians.

About 70,200 cancer cases could have been prevented in 2015.

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of cancer followed by physical inactivity, excess body weight, low fruit and sun exposure.

About 18% of all cancer diagnoses in Canada are due to tobacco.

Cancers of the cervix, lung, and head and neck are the most preventable cancers in Canada.

If current trends continue, about 111,700 cancers in Canada could be due to modifiable risk factors in 2042.

By 2042, excess body weight is projected to be the second leading preventable cause of cancer, after tobacco.

More than 11,000 and 6,000 cancers could be prevented every year with a substantial reduction in smoking and excess body weight, respectively.

The results of the ComPARe study can help guide prevention research, inform program development, influence behaviour change and advocate for new policies and interventions aimed at reducing the burden of cancer in Canada. The results also inform national and provincial policy-makers about the risk factors and cancer sites most amenable to intervention and help identify which cancer prevention policies could have the greatest impact.



The data dashboards are interactive tools to help you explore the results for each cancer type and risk factor pair included in the ComPARe study. The dashboards present cancer cases in Canada that are due to modifiable risk factors by risk factor, cancer type, sex, age and geography.


The infographics present key findings from the ComPARe study and provide a comprehensive picture of the preventable burden of cancer in Canada.


Peer-reviewed journal articles share the results of the ComPARe study.


The webinar provides an overview of the ComPARe study, methods, key findings and resources available.


Figures can be used in presentations about the future burden of preventable cancer cases in Canada.


The ComPARe study was made possible through funding from a CCS-Partner Prevention Research Grant and brought together researchers and knowledge users from across the country to look at the preventable burden of cancer in Canada.

How many cancers can be prevented?

About 4 in 10 cancer cases in Canada can be prevented. There are things we eat, drink, breathe and do that affect our cancer risk.