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July 25th, 2012, 13:39
Rise in cancer is to some degree the result of improved diagnostics. For instance the increased incidence of brain tumours in children is partially explained by that. The fact that we're gettivng older is another factor. The incidence of cancer increases significantly by age.
However, neither of these factors explain all of it, there is a real increase in incidence. But it varies between different cancers. For instance, in the western world we've seen a reduction in the number of new cancers in the stomach in. This is likely caused by a change in the methods used for long-term storage of food, from salting and smoking to freezing. Salting and smoking food create carcinogens (substances which may cause cancer), freezing to a smaller degree.
For some cancers, the increase is huge, one of them is melanoma of the skin. And while the incidence of lung cancer has been falling among males, we've seen a significant increase among females. Lung cancer is now responsible for 25% of cancer related deaths in women, and has passed breast cancer as the deadliest cancer. Breast cancer is still approx 2.5 times more common, but the prognosis for breast cancer is far better. In fact, unlike most cancers, we haven't seen any improvement for lung cancer for more than 40 years.
This is caused by smoking habits. Smoking among men has been decreasing since the 90's, but has increased among females until recently. There is also data indicating that females are more at risk when smoking than men. Below the age of 50, more women die from lung cancer than men. FWIW, when I started as a resident in our local radiology department, I was struck by the number of lung cancers in patients younger than 40. Most of them was females.
Observe that lung cancer takes around 20 years to develop, therefore recent changes in cancer risk won't be seen for a long time yet. We expect lung cancer to continue increasing in women and not flat out until 2020.
EDIT: Added more drivel
Last edited by pibbur who; July 25th, 2012 at
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