For the first time, experts looked at the combination of five high-risk lifestyles to understand their overall impact. The measures take in alcohol consumption, smoking, low fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and obesity.
They are identified among the nine risk factors responsible for 35% of all cancer deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.
In high income countries, these five risk factors have also been estimated to account for around 90% of the total burden of disease.
The impact on Scotland was set out in a comprehensive study of thousands of people. The report, published by the Scottish Government, found that 15% of over-16s are overweight, do not meet physical activity guidelines and eat fewer than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
One in 10 adults have that combination, and drink too much alcohol.The report added: “The fact that low fruit and vegetable consumption appears in all of the top five risk combinations is obviously a reflection of the high prevalence of adults in Scotland who do not meet the five-a-day recommendation.”
Only 2% of adults in Scotland had none of the risks, while just 4% had all five. But most Scots – at 59% – had at least three of the risks.