Cancer deaths related to behavioural risk factors, study says

The newly-released Lancet study says lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, drinking and obesity caused nearly half of cancer deaths in 2019. Risk factors differ globally based on environmental and economic conditions. Cancer deaths could be prevented by controlling risk factors such as tobacco consumption, alcohol consumption and high BMI, a new study by the British journal Lancet has concluded.

The study attributed 44.4 per cent of global cancer deaths in the year 2019 to a group of risk factors which included behavioural choices.

Researchers found 34 risk factors, with smoking, drinking and obesity taking the lead. Smoking alone was responsible for some 33.9 per cent of cancer cases.

Findings were based on studying the cases of 10 million people who died in 2019 from 23 different types of cancer.

“The burden of cancer remains an important public health challenge that is growing in magnitude around the world,” said Christopher Murray, a co-senior author of the study. (Also Read: Carcinoid tumours: Causes, symptoms and tips on how these cancers can be treated)

Different results in low-income countries

The study also concluded that causes of cancer deaths varied based on the location and Socio-Demographic Index of the countries where patients reside.

In lower income countries, factors such as smoking, unsafe sex and alcohol use highly impacted cancer patients’ life expectancy.

In South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, metabolic risks were also quite influential. The regions all rank low on the Social Demographic Index.

The study said in its findings that while its results point at the possibility of preventing a significant number of cancer deaths through controlling behavioural factors, other factors could not be as easily handled.

It recommended efforts towards supporting early diagnosis and effective treatment.

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