The number of excess cases of people with a disease in a population that can be attributed to a particular risk factor. Population attributable risk is a joint function of relative risk, the prevalence of a risk factor in the population, and the absolute risk of disease.
Example: Roughly 135,000 people die each year from lung cancer in the United States. The relative risk of lung cancer in smokers is 10 to 1; one-third of the American population smokes, so 101,000 lung cancer deaths per year are attributable to smoking. Alternatively, there might have been 101,000 fewer deaths if no one smoked.
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