“To our knowledge, this study is the largest effort to date to quantify the global burden of cancer related to risk factors, and it contributes to a growing body of evidence aimed at estimating the burden of risk for specific cancers nationally, internationally, and globally,” Dr. Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and his colleagues wrote for the study.
The project collects global data on mortality and disability. Murray and his colleagues studied 23 types of cancer and 34 risk factors from 2010 to 2019, and zeroed in on cancer death and disability rates in 204 countries.
The most advanced cancers According to the researchers, the number of risk-related deaths worldwide in 2019, for both men and women, was trachea, bronchus and lung cancer.
The data also showed that risk-related cancer deaths were on the rise and increased by 20.4% worldwide from 2010 to 2019. The top five regions for risk-related death rates in 2019 were Central Europe, East Asia and the North. America, South Latin America and Western Europe.
“These findings suggest that a significant portion of the cancer burden worldwide has the potential to be prevented through interventions aimed at reducing exposure to known cancer risk factors, but also that a large portion of the cancer burden could be prevented by controlling currently assessed risk factors.” researchers wrote. “Thus, efforts to reduce cancer risk must be combined with comprehensive cancer control strategies that include efforts to support early diagnosis and effective treatment.”
The new study “clearly underscores” the importance of primary cancer prevention and “the rise in obesity-related cancers clearly warrants our attention.” William Dahut, chief scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the new study, wrote in an email to CNN.
“Behavior modification can save millions of lives, overshadowing the effects of any drug ever approved,” he wrote.
Although tobacco use in the United States is lower than in other countries, tobacco-related cancer deaths remain a major problem and disproportionately affect certain states, Dahut wrote.
“Furthermore, it is no secret that alcohol consumption, as well as a sharp increase in median BMI, leads to a significant number of preventable cancer deaths,” Dahut added. “Ultimately, cancer screening is especially important for those at high risk as we move to a world where screening is precision-based and adaptive.”
In an editorial published alongside the new study in The Lancet, Dr. Diana Safarty and Jason Gurney of the Te Aho o Te Kahu Cancer Agency in New Zealand write that preventable risk factors associated with cancer are shaped by poverty.
“Poverty affects the environments people live in, and those environments shape the life decisions people make. Actions to prevent cancer require a concerted effort within and outside the health care system. This action includes specific policies aimed at reducing the impact of cancer.” .Introducing risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use, and access to vaccinations that prevent cancer-causing infections, including hepatitis B and HPV,” Safarty and Gurney wrote.
“Primary cancer prevention by eliminating or mitigating modifiable risk factors is our best hope for reducing the future burden of cancer,” they wrote. “Reducing this burden will improve health and well-being, as well as reduce the burden of complications and fiscal resource pressures on people in cancer services and healthcare.”