WHO: Here are some ways to reduce your #cancer risk.

19 August, 2018

Below are extracts from a WHO fact sheet on cancer. Full text here: http://bit.ly/2hujn3D



1. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.

2. Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.

3. Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.

4. Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths (2).

5. Cancer causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries (3).

6. Late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common. In 2017, only 26% of low-income countries reported having pathology services generally available in the public sector. More than 90% of high-income countries reported treatment services are available compared to less than 30% of low-income countries.

7. The economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing. The total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US$ 1.16 trillion (4).

8. Only 1 in 5 low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy (5).

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of:

Lung (1.69 million deaths)

Liver (788 000 deaths)

Colorectal (774 000 deaths)

Stomach (754 000 deaths)

Breast (571 000 deaths)

Between 30–50% of cancers can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. The cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection of cancer and management of patients who develop cancer. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately.

COMMENT (NPW): To what extent are the citizens of different countries aware of the health/cancer risks of high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use? It is often argued that such knowledge alone is often not sufficent to drive behabviour change. However, it is a prerequisite for such change. For example, what proportion of ex-smokers quit largely, or partly, for health reasons? - the number is likely to approach 100%.

Indeed, 'Few smokers and non-smokers fully understand the health risks of tobacco': http://www.who.int/tobacco/mpower/publications/en_tfi_mpower_brochure_w.pdf

This is a huge indictment of many governments worldwide, who have an obligation under international human rights law to ensure that citizens have the information they need to protect their own health and the health of others. http://www.hifa.org/about-hifa/hifa-universal-health-coverage-and-human-...

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children:


Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (www.dgroups.info), which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org