The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is projecting annual cancer deaths to double by 2030. The agency says that within the next two decades, global cancer deaths will increase to 17 million per year from 8 million in 2007. In addition, the IARC estimates that 27 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed every year up from 12 million last year.
As a result of projected annual 1 percent growths in both cancer deaths and cases diagnosed, cancer will become the leading cause of death in 2010.
Worldwide cancer rates doubled between 1975 and 2000 and rates are predicted to double again by 2020 and triple by 2030. The agency blames the grim statistics on increasing tobacco use in low and middle income countries combined with more “Westernized” lifestyles.
When many people think of third world nations they image the leading causes of death being preventable disease. However more people die of cancer each year than all of the deaths from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
In 1970 only 15 percent of cancers occurred in poor nations but now they account for more than half of cancer cases and two-thirds of cancer related deaths. The biggest factor for increased cancer rates is dramatic increase in tobacco use in the 1980s and 1990s.
The agency estimates that about 1.3 billion people smoke worldwide and currently 12 percent of cancer cases in low-income countries can be attributed to tobacco use with lung cancer killing more people worldwide than any other form of cancer.
The countries expected to be hit hardest include China, India and Russia which are projected to post the biggest increases in cancer deaths. Part of the reason is that smoking and lifestyle factors like obesity will overtake chronic infection as the leading causes of cancer among poorer nations.
The new statistics are in stark contrast to a recent report showing a decline in both cancer incidence and deaths in the United States for the first time in a decade. This underscores the shift in cancer toward less industrialized societies and indicates the need for fully funded cancer centers and smoking prevention programs in low and middle income countries.
Other forms of cancer are increasing as well with breast cancer rates increasing by as much as 5 percent each year in some countries. Cervical cancer continues to claim lives and is the leading cause of cancer death in poor nations including many parts of Africa.
Asian nations have seen some of the largest cancer rates. The rate of stomach cancer continues to be higher than other parts of the world because of a lack of refrigeration while breast cancer rates in Japan, Korea and Singapore have doubled and even tripled during the last forty years.