Cancer will double by 2050

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Researchers: Life expectancy and lifestyle influence cancer risk

The number of cancers is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. The cancer researcher names Dr. Graham Colditz of Washington University in St. Louis about the unhealthy lifestyle and increasing life expectancy.

The number of cancer patients worldwide is expected to double by 2050, according to Dr. Colditz. In addition to increasing life expectancy, factors such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise play a decisive role here, the expert explained. A healthy lifestyle offers the best prerequisites to minimize the personal risk of cancer. But many people do not use these options for cancer prevention, warn Dr. Colditz and colleagues in a current article in the journal "Nature Translational Medicine"

Tobacco consumption is the main cause of cancer While in the past only a few people developed cancer because the majority simply did not get old enough or died from diseases such as plague or smallpox, the improved medical care and the correspondingly higher life expectancy have led to a significant increase in cancer for around 60 years . However, according to Graham Colditz, the unhealthy lifestyle also plays a role that should not be underestimated. If the trend continues, "the number of cancer diagnoses will double by 2050," write the scientists from Washington University. The "main cause" for the increase in cancer "is tobacco consumption", emphasized Dr. Colditz and substantiated his statement using the example of the US states Utah and Kentucky. While only 9.8 percent of the population smoked in Utah in 2009, the proportion of smokers in Kentucky was more than 25 percent, Colditz explained. This difference is also reflected in the US Cancer Registry, where the number of deaths from lung cancer for Kentucky is 97.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the number for Utah is only 24.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, Colditz continues. With Utah's lung cancer death rate around 73 percent lower, "we estimate that 75 percent of US lung cancer cases could be prevented if smoking were not allowed," said the US researcher. Overall, tobacco consumption is responsible for around a third of all cancer cases in the United States.

Obesity and lack of exercise as cancer risk factors The US researchers named another significant cancer risk factor as being overweight and obesity, which they estimate causes 20 percent of cancer cases in the USA. Half of these cancers can probably be avoided by reducing excess weight, according to cancer researchers from Washington University. Lack of exercise is responsible for around five percent of cancer cases in the United States, according to Graham Colditz and colleagues, with 85 percent of which could be avoided through regular physical activity. According to the current state of knowledge, viruses are also the cause of around five percent of cancer cases, but these could be avoided 100 percent, the scientists write. Alcohol consumption causes around three percent of cancer cases and excessive sunbathing or ionizing radiation accounts for around two percent of cancer cases, Graham and colleagues continue.

Cancer prevention should start at a young age As one of the main obstacles in the fight against cancer, the US scientists describe the late start with preventive measures. For a long time it was known “that a lifestyle change is possible and that such changes reduce the risk of cancer. But the basic question is whether we intervene early enough in life, ”emphasized Dr. The foundation stone for various types of cancer is laid early in life, although prevention should actually start earlier. The basis for pancreatic cancer often arises in the period between 13 and 28 years, the risk of breast cancer can be reduced by more than 25 percent through exercise before the onset of the first menstrual period until menopause, and alcohol in the adolescent phase increases the risk of pre-breast cancer, the An example of cancer researchers who will demonstrate the need for early prevention. The above-mentioned cancers show that cancer prevention measures should also explicitly address younger people in order to achieve a long-term reduction in the risk of cancer, says Dr. Colditz and colleagues continue.

Moral obligation to act now However, the researchers would also have to put their dispute over detailed questions aside and jointly improve cancer prevention in order to avoid the expected increase in cancer, said Dr. "We have a moral obligation to act now in order to reduce the later burden," he said to colleagues. However, the cancer researcher also referred to the problems with the resistance of certain lobby associations, such as the tobacco industry, who are doing their utmost to defend themselves against restrictions in their business model. Here, as is the case with tobacco smoking in many countries, politics must take more stringent measures with regulations and laws in order to reduce the risk of cancer, the US researchers explained. (fp)

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