Updated 09 September 2014

Lifestyle changes may prevent 50% of cancer cases

The latest World Cancer Report emphasises the importance of prevention in reducing incidences of the disease, over 14 million of which were reported in 2012.

The World Health Organisation has released its 2014 World Cancer Report which lays out how cancer currently affects the global population and how they foresee it developing over the next few years.

The report, the release of which coincides with this year’s World Cancer Day, emphasises the importance of prevention in reducing incidences of the disease, over 14 million of which were reported in 2012.

Prevention and early detection

This number is expected to continue to grow, especially in low and middle income countries such as South Africa. The most common cancers in poorer countries are those caused by infections, such as cervical cancer resulting from HPV, and cancers associated with poor lifestyle. Developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America account for 70% of global cancer deaths. 

Watch: CANSA CEO responds to government's HPV vaccine roll-out

Smoking, alcohol, sugar intake and obesity are all linked to a substantially increased risk of developing cancer. “Despite exciting advances, the report shows that we cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem. More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally,” said co-author Dr Christopher Wild in his preface to the report.

Lung cancer the biggest killer

The report points out that lung cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, accounting for 16.7% of cases, as well as the biggest killer, making up 23.6% of all cancer deaths. Breast Cancer is still the most common form of cancer in women, but the number of deaths resulting from it has dropped to just ahead of lung cancer. These two cancers are responsible for 14.7% and 13.8% of deaths respectively, with over 25% of cancer cases in women being breast cancer.

Check yourself: Breast cancer self-examination

The authors emphasise the importance of a healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoid cigarettes and alcohol in prevention of alcohol. They believe that up to half of cancer cases globally could be avoided through reasonable lifestyle changes.

Read more:

CANSA CEO shares her cancer survival story
16 tips on avoiding cancer
Men can get breast cancer too


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