Economic Development Doesn't Always Mean Better Health

Cancer rates will continue to rise in developing nations because of lifestyle factors

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A new report from the American Cancer Society suggests cancers associated with lifestyle choices -- including colorectal, breast and lung cancers -- will continue to rise in developing nations unless preventive measures are put in place.

The report details cancer in Africa, where approximately 681,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed and 512,400 cancer deaths occurred in 2008. Those figures are expected to triple by 2030 due to population growth and an aging population.

About 5.6 million of the 12.7 worldwide new cancer cases in 2008 were found in economically developing countries, and 4.8 million of the 7.6 million cancer deaths worldwide were located in the same nations.

Moreover the global cancer burden has almost doubled to 21.4 million cases and 13.2 million deaths by 2030 -- figures that are attributable not only to aging and growing populations but also to unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors related to economic development, such as poor diet, inadequate exercise and smoking.

In an accompanying editorial, Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said that approximately 2.6 million of the 7.6 million cancer deaths in 2008 were potentially avoidable through prevention efforts that are known to curb risk, such as the elimination of tobacco use, better diets and minimal alcohol consumption. Brawley called on national and international public health agencies, governments, donors and private sectors to play a bigger role in implementing regional cancer-control programs worldwide.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in developed countries, while incidences of colorectal cancers -- while on the decline in the U.S. -- are rapidly increasing in countries that have historically been at low-risk, including those in Eastern Asia and Eastern Europe.

The report is published in the second edition of Global Cancer Facts & Figures.

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Review Date: 
February 7, 2011
Last Updated:
February 8, 2011