World Health Organization (WHO) officials are urging countries worldwide to take immediate action to prevent an impending “tidal wave” of cancer.
In a new report, WHO estimates that the number of cancer cases will increase by 70 percent over the next twenty years, and could reach 24 million per year by 2035.
“The global cancer burden is increasing and quite markedly,” Chris Wild, the director of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, told BBC News. “If we look at the cost of treatment of cancers, it is spiralling out of control, even for the high-income countries. Prevention is absolutely critical and it’s been somewhat neglected.”
The WHO’s new research echoes earlier projections that have also estimated a huge jump in global cancer cases, which has a direct impact on the increasing number of people dying from these diseases. The cancer mortality rate rose by eight percent between 2008 and 2012.
Researchers attribute the spike in cancer diagnoses partly to population growth and aging. But they’re particularly concerned about preventable cancers that stem from lifestyle choices and environmental factors — like those that are linked to alcohol, tobacco, air pollution, obesity, and radiation.
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