Almost half of all cancer-related deaths are preventable

According to the largest study on the relationship between cancer burden and risk factors, nearly 50% of cancer deaths worldwide are caused by preventable risk factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol.

Using estimates based on cancer cases and deaths recorded in more than 200 countries, the researchers found that avoidable risk factors were responsible for nearly 4.5 million cancer deaths in 2019. This represents more than 44% of global cancer deaths that year. Smoking, alcohol consumption and high body mass index (BMI) (which can indicate obesity) were the biggest risk factors for cancer.

Rudolph Coxa cancer epidemiologist at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, points out that the findings on August 20 of this year (about three weeks ago) Published in The Lancet, largely confirms the results of smaller studies and shows how much reducing exposure to risk factors can really help prevent a significant portion of cancers. Cox puts it very succinctly:

Do not smoke; Don’t gain weight and don’t drink too much alcohol.

heavy responsibility

According to Justin Long, the study’s senior author and an epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada in Ottawa, said it is difficult to determine the true number of cancer cases and deaths worldwide because some countries do not record such data. To solve this challenge, Long and colleagues used data from a study that looked at death and disability from more than 350 diseases and injuries in 204 countries. By digging through these data, they estimated the impact of 34 risk factors on poor health and mortality from 23 types of cancer.

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In 2019, half of all cancer deaths among men, as well as more than a third among women, were due to preventable risk factors, including tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets, unsafe sex, and exposure to products. It has been as harmful in the workplace as asbestos. From 2010 to 2019, cancer deaths caused by these risk factors increased by 20% worldwide, and overweight accounted for the largest percentage increase among them. This issue has been especially evident in low-income countries.

Kelly Comptonone of the authors of this study and a staff member of the Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation (IHME) project in Seattle says:

These results, combined with local knowledge, may be useful for policy makers in determining modifiable risk factors and in order to strengthen their efforts for cancer control programs.

According to Lisa Force of the University of Washington, the paper’s lead author, who studies the relationship between cancer and health measures, smoke-free policies, increased tobacco taxes and advertising bans have been effective in reducing people’s exposure to cigarettes, and similar efforts to help reduce smoking are more than Alcohol limit is also recommended.

Future research

A recent study has interesting positive points. But the shortcomings are also evident in this research, which scientists can cover in future research. The study did not take into account some of the other known risk factors associated with cancer, including exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation as well as certain infections. However, researchers have used the term “unsafe sex” as a proxy for cancer risks associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) and other sexually transmitted viruses. Cervical cancer, caused by certain types of HPV, is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Cox says:

A large part of cancer incidence and mortality in women can be reduced by timely HPV vaccination.

Jonathan Kokarnik, among the other study authors, states that their team may include risk factors such as infections and exposure to UV rays in their future analyzes of studies; When more data (for example, on exposure levels to these agents) are available.

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Future research work could also help assess the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer incidence and mortality. A 2022 study estimated that by 2025, there will be more than 3,000 avoidable cancer deaths in England as a result of diagnostic delays caused by Covid-19. According to Kokarnik, it is possible that the corona epidemic has changed the exposure of people to certain risk factors in some areas. For example, exposure to harmful products at work may have been reduced during quarantine. However, he mentions in his explanation that:

It will likely take years to fully understand the potential changes in exposure to risk factors and their impact on cancer statistics.

Scientific article related to this research Available from this link.

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