Bad habits of ‘Western lifestyle’ blamed for rise of cancer in the developing world

    16 December 2015

    Cancer is becoming more common in the developing world because of the proliferation of a ‘Western lifestyle’, according to a report published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

    It is predicted that the greatest proportional increases in cancer cases will now come from the poorest parts of the world. In 2012 there were an estimated 14.1 million new cancer diagnoses and 32.6 million people living with cancer.

    The research, led by epidemiologist Lindsey Torre of the American Cancer Society, found that cancer rates, which are declining in high-income countries, are rising in lower-income countries.

    Torre told the Washington Post that a growing ‘Western lifestyle’ meant that ‘people are less active. There is less manual labour and more use of transport. They have access to perhaps more appealing but less healthy foods.’

    Torre and her team looked at mortality data gathered between 2003 and 2012 in 50 countries selected as representative of the world’s regions. They focused their analysis on eight major forms of cancer.

    The researchers found that the increase in cancer cases is especially prevalent in lung, colorectal and breast cancer. This, they say, is due to better screening and detection in the West. They also point out that lifestyle risk factors (such as smoking and alcohol consumption) are declining in higher-income countries.

    They also point out that developing countries are more susceptible to conditions which lead to cancer, such as the stomach bug helicobacter pylori, and the human papillomavirus (HPV).

    The researchers say that addressing the inequality is critical because the cancers which are becoming more common are those which are most treatable.