While it is lowering down in Western countries, cancer rate increases in poor countries, according to a new study. One of the possible explanations is that developing countries are adopting lifestyle behaviors from the West, which lead to an uprising in the number of cancer cases.
On the other side, cancer rate decreases in developed countries as a result of years of research and of the development of technology which makes screenings better and more accessible to anyone.
However, cancer is still the primary cause of death in all countries around the world and it continues to make more and more victims each year. But what has changed is that if historically low income countries were more affected by infectious and viral diseases, now the number of breast, colorectal and lung cancer, which were more specific to wealthier countries, become more and come common in developing countries. That is added to the already high rates in infection-related types of cancer, such as stomach, liver and cervical cancers which were present in these countries.
A team of researchers led by Lindsey Torre from the American Cancer Society analyzed data from an international database containing cancer statistics from the World Health Organization. The study took data from 50 countries situated in different regions across the globe regarding the trends in some widely spread types of cancer, such as cervical, liver, stomach, esophageal, lung, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer.
According to the research team, the increasing levels of Western-specific cancers in developing countries are caused by changings in the lifestyle factors. For example, smoking, which became more common in middle and low income countries, is a major risk factor for both lung and colorectal cancer.
However, when it comes to breast cancer, researchers can’t say for sure which factors are responsible for the increase in its occurrence rates. They believe it might be a result of more awareness and more frequent and accessible screenings. A major role could be played by changings in reproductive patterns, in the way that women have children at older age and breastfeed for shorter periods.
Another major type of cancer affecting women in poor countries is cervical cancer, which is less and less frequent in high-income countries. The regions with the highest mortality rates caused by cervical cancer are Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In high-income regions, screening programs led to a decrease of up to 70 percent.
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