Almost half of the deaths caused by cancer in the world are due to risk factors related to tobacco and alcohol consumption and poor eating habits, according to a study led by the University of Washington.
The drop in smokers in Spain slows down in 2021 after a large drop in the year of confinement
The team reviewed data from the Global Burden of Disease, Injury, and Risk Factor (GBD) study and looked at the impact of 34 risk factors on health and mortality from 23 types of cancer. which were responsible for 4.45 million deaths worldwide in 2019, 44.4% of the total figure.
A high body mass index, smoking and alcohol consumption are among the main risk factors for both sexes, although they affect men more due to environmental, occupational and behavioral factors, highlights this work, whose results are published in Magazine The Lancet.
A major public health challenge
50.6% of all cancer deaths in men in 2019 were due to the risk factors studied, compared to 36.3% in women. Likewise, the global number of deaths from cancers related to risk factors increased by 20.4% between 2010 and 2019 and differed considerably according to the level of development of each country.
Cancer remains a major public health challenge and is growing in magnitude around the world. Smoking remains the leading risk factor for cancer globally
— Study co-author
“This study shows that cancer remains a major public health challenge and is growing in magnitude around the world. Smoking remains the leading risk factor for cancer globally,” said study co-author Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
The expert assures that his conclusions “can help legislators and researchers to identify key risk factors on which to direct their efforts to reduce mortality and improve the health of patients on a global, national and regional scale.”
The numbers behind cancer
Murray recalls that 36.9% of all deaths attributable to risk factors globally, both in men and women, were caused by lung, tracheal and bronchial cancer, all of them related to smoking.
They are followed for men by colon cancer (13.3%), esophagus (9.7%) and stomach (6.6%), while in women cervical cancer stands out (17.9%) , colon and rectum (15.8%) and breast (11%).
In 2019, 25.4% of all cancer deaths and 26.5% of all cancer deaths attributable to risk factors occurred disproportionately in countries with a high sociodemographic index
The study also found that, in 2019, 25.4% of all cancer deaths and 26.5% of all cancer deaths attributable to risk factors occurred “disproportionately” in countries with a high sociodemographic index. , despite the fact that they only represent 13.1% of the global population.
In this sense, the five regions with the highest risk factor mortality rates were Central Europe, with 82 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, East Asia (69.8/100,000), North America (66/100,000), South Latin America (64.2/100,000) and Western Europe (63.8/100,000).
Population aging, metabolic risk and data
According to Rafael Marcos Gragera, an epidemiologist at the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), when SMC Spain“the results of this study coincide with others carried out in different geographical areas (France, United Kingdom, Australia and USA) in which the proportion of cancer deaths due to modifiable risk factors would be approximately 40%.
This researcher, who has not participated in the study, adds that “an important result is geographic inequality in reducing the impact of risk factors on years of life lost due to disability.”
Marcos Gragera points out that the study indicates that “the aging of the population has an important weight in the burden of the disease due to modifiable risk factors. On the other hand, the increased burden of cancer attributable to metabolic risk, especially in low-income countries, could be the result of these countries undergoing an epidemiological transition in which improvements in the country’s development status are related with rising levels of obesity.
“One of the most important results of this study is that, in order to be able to assess the impact of cancer control measures, whether primary or secondary prevention, as well as to be able to assess progress in cancer care – new treatments – we need quality data on both incidence and mortality, especially in those countries where there are no consolidated information systems”, he stresses.