Until recently cancer was a disease that affected mostly the developed nations, while infectious diseases plagued the developing world the most. But as the Western lifestyle is now adopted by more and more low-income countries, cancer cases skyrocketed in those countries in recent years.
On the other hand, cancer rates in Western nations recently leveled off, and experts believe that the good news is linked to improvements in health care, early detection, and awareness campaigns.
Yet, because health care infrastructure is still frail in developing countries, cancer cases surged in recent years and the numbers are expected to grow even more in the coming decades as people tend to change their diets and other lifestyle choices.
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recently found that cancer mortality is expected to become a larger issue in the coming years in the developing world. The group said that cancer is still the leading cause of death in all countries globally.
AACR researchers detected a surge in breast, lung and rectal countries in poorly developed nations, although these types of cancer historically affected only developed nations. But low-income states already struggle with other types of cancers, especially those linked to an infection such as cervical, stomach, and liver cancer.
AACR investigators based their recent research on data provided by an international database held by the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm. The database contains info on 50 states and incidence of rectal, stomach, breast, liver, cervical, and lung cancers.
Study authors concluded that the rise in rectal, lung and breast cancers in developing countries is caused by lifestyle factors such as a Western diet, lack of physical exercise, alcoholism, and smoking.
For instance, it is well-known that lung cancer is often caused by smoking. Rectal cancer is also caused by smoking, but in combination with overweight, lack of physical exercise, substance abuse, and/or processed meat.
In the Western world, breast cancer cases had skyrocketed by 30 percent between the 80s and the late 90s. Doctors believe that the surge may be tied to overdiagnosis, delayed motherhood, and hormone therapy used by menopausal women to reduce their symptoms. Nevertheless, in recent years the breast cancer rate remained flat.
In low-income countries, breast cancer is on the rise. Experts do not have a clear explanation but they estimate that it may have something to do with increased awareness, oral contraceptive use, women who choose to delay their motherhood and not breastfeed their children, or breastfeed them for a brief period of time.
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