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Cancer rates rising in poor countries
December 20, 2015, 3:01 pm
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People in many low- and middle-income countries adopting unhealthy Western habits are seeing a higher prevalence of common cancers, even as better screening and lifestyle changes have helped reduce this in many high-income countries.

In 2012, an estimated 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths occurred worldwide, and the number of cancer cases and deaths are expected to grow rapidly as populations increase, get older and adopt lifestyles that raise the risk for cancer.

Researchers report that while the highest rates of cancer are still in high-income countries, with lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking leading to colon, lung and breast cancers, the rates of the same cancers are now increasing in low- and middle-income countries.

As countries in South America, Africa and Asia get wealthier, people tend to smoke more, eat more junk food and be less physically active, thus increasing the likelihood of certain cancers associated with these changes.

However, as the incidence of these cancers increase, these nations may not have the resources to deal with this growing burden. Many of these countries, already burdened by cancers related to infections, such as stomach, liver and cervical cancers may not have screening programs to catch and treat lifestyle related cancers.

Given that many of the lifestyle related cancers can be prevented through awareness and early screening, it is both tragic and unconscionable that risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases are being actively exported by wealthy countries to developing countries, said the researchers.

For example, as barriers to the sale of cigarettes in the United States have mounted, tobacco exports have increased. The United States is also exporting fast food, junk food, soda, labor-displacing technologies and lifestyle practices that foster obesity and diabetes, noted the researchers. "We are exporting causes, and thus cases, of cancer," one analyst said. "Profit is being prioritized over human lives. Knowing this, and continuing in that vein, is all to our shame."People in many low- and middle-income countries adopting unhealthy Western habits are seeing a higher prevalence of common cancers, even as better screening and lifestyle changes have helped reduce this in many high-income countries.

In 2012, an estimated 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths occurred worldwide, and the number of cancer cases and deaths are expected to grow rapidly as populations increase, get older and adopt lifestyles that raise the risk for cancer.

Researchers report that while the highest rates of cancer are still in high-income countries, with lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking leading to colon, lung and breast cancers, the rates of the same cancers are now increasing in low- and middle-income countries.

As countries in South America, Africa and Asia get wealthier, people tend to smoke more, eat more junk food and be less physically active, thus increasing the likelihood of certain cancers associated with these changes.

However, as the incidence of these cancers increase, these nations may not have the resources to deal with this growing burden. Many of these countries, already burdened by cancers related to infections, such as stomach, liver and cervical cancers may not have screening programs to catch and treat lifestyle related cancers.

Given that many of the lifestyle related cancers can be prevented through awareness and early screening, it is both tragic and unconscionable that risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases are being actively exported by wealthy countries to developing countries, said the researchers.

For example, as barriers to the sale of cigarettes in the United States have mounted, tobacco exports have increased. The United States is also exporting fast food, junk food, soda, labor-displacing technologies and lifestyle practices that foster obesity and diabetes, noted the researchers. "We are exporting causes, and thus cases, of cancer," one analyst said. "Profit is being prioritized over human lives. Knowing this, and continuing in that vein, is all to our shame."

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