Cancer rates set to rocket in women six times faster than men

pharmafile | February 3, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development Cancer, Cancer Research UK, World Cancer Day 

The figures emerging from research conducted by Cancer Research UK predict that rates of cancer in women will rise by 3% whilst only nudging up 0.5% in men over the next two decades. This will mean that figures of men and women with cancer will become almost level by 2035, with 4.5 million women predicted to be diagnosed with cancer and 4.8 million in men in the twenty year period.

The news comes just before World Cancer Day and may not be the most reassuring news to come out of the awareness-encouraging day. The positive news, however, is that the primary reasons given for this rise in women are mainly dependent upon lifestyle choices, such as diet, alcohol consumption and smoking.

The primary driver of the increasing rates of cancer is due to diet, with obesity levels rising so are levels of cancer that increase proportionately. This is particularly important in women, as several cancers that are weight-dependent only appear in women.

As well as this, smoking is another key factor in cancer rates. As the generation that grew up in and after 1960s, who were more likely to take up smoking after it was already prevalent in men, reach an age where cancer is more likely to arise, cancer rates are expected to increase. Alcohol consumption has also increased in women, another contributing factor to the risk factor of cancer.

The types of cancer that are increasing in prevalence in women are ovarian, cervical and oral cancers, and are the ones that are predicted to continue rising over the course of the next two decades.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, said: “These new figures reveal the huge challenge we continue to face, both in the UK and worldwide. Research is at the heart of finding ways to reduce cancer’s burden and ensure more people survive, particularly for hard-to-treat cancers where the outlook for patients is still bleak. We need to keep working hard to reduce the devastating impact cancer can have on so many families.

 “The latest figures show that more than 8 million people die from cancer each year across the world. More people die from cancer than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis put together. With more investment into research, we hope to make big improvements over the next 20 years in diagnosing the disease earlier and improving and developing treatments so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their disease.”

On top of research into cancer and treatment, more basic methods of prevention are common sense – those of lifestyle changes. Maintaining a healthy weight, which can be influenced by healthy dietary choices, reducing or quitting smoking and drinking a responsible amount of alcohol would all contribute to a lower risk of cancer. 

Ben Hargreaves


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