Cancer Prevention and Worksite Health Promotion: Time to Join Forces

Dawn M. Holman, MPH


Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The workplace is recognized as a setting that can profoundly influence workers' health and well-being.[1,2] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) workplace health promotion efforts address cancer prevention by focusing on cancer screening programs, community–clinical linkages, and cancer risk factors (eg, tobacco use, physical inactivity) that also influence risk for other chronic diseases ( Some efforts focus specifically on cancer; some focus on general chronic disease prevention. Additionally, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of CDC, provides research and recommendations to address workplace hazards posed by chemicals that may increase cancer risk (

Existing resources can be leveraged to expand the scope of workplace initiatives to address additional cancer risk factors and disparities. Changes to the physical and social characteristics of work environments are likely to have greater impact than health education alone.[3] Given the aging US population (which is expected to result in a marked increase in the number of cancer diagnoses over the coming decades) and the prevalence of numerous risk factors among working-aged adults,[4,5] a multifaceted approach to cancer prevention in the workplace is timely and needed. In addition, community-based prevention efforts may offer unrealized opportunities to reach vulnerable working populations who are not served by workplace health promotion programs. In this essay, we draw attention to a wide variety of available CDC resources and provide ideas for new efforts to advance primary cancer prevention among working adults.