Disparities in Health and Economic Burdens of Cancer Attributable to Suboptimal Diet in the United States, 2015-2018


Objectives: To quantify disparities in health and economic burdens of cancer attributable to suboptimal diet among US adults. Methods. Using a probabilistic cohort state-transition model, we estimated the number of new cancer cases and cancer deaths, and economic costs of 15 diet-related cancers attributable to suboptimal intake of 7 dietary factors (a low intake of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains and a high intake of red and processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages) among a closed cohort of US adults starting in 2017.

Results: Suboptimal diet was estimated to contribute to 3.04 (95% uncertainty interval [UI] = 2.88, 3.20) million new cancer cases, 1.74 (95% UI = 1.65, 1.84) million cancer deaths, and $254 (95% UI = $242, $267) billion economic costs among US adults aged 20 years or older over a lifetime. Diet-attributable cancer burdens were higher among younger adults, men, non-Hispanic Blacks, and individuals with lower education and income attainments than other population subgroups. The largest disparities were for cancers attributable to high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and low consumption of whole grains.

Conclusions: Suboptimal diet contributes to substantial disparities in health and economic burdens of cancer among young adults, men, racial/ethnic minorities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.