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December 9, 2008

Cancer rates growing dramatically

HEALTH - Cancer rates around the world are growing quickly and will overtake heart disease as the world's top killer by 2010, part of a trend that should more than double global cancer cases and deaths by 2030, the World Health Organization said today.

Rising tobacco use in developing countries is believed to be the major reason for the shift, particularly in China and India, where 40% of the world's smokers now live. An annual rise of 1% in cases and deaths is expected – with even larger increases in China, Russia and India. That means new cancer cases will likely mushroom to 27 million annually by 2030, with deaths hitting 17 million. Infectious diseases are going down thanks to modern medicine, but man-made illnesses and infertility rates in developed countries are skyrocketing.

Cancer diagnoses around the world have been rising rapidly and are expected to hit 12 million in 2008. Global cancer deaths are expected to reach 7 million this year. Underlying all this is an expected expansion of the world's population – there will be more people around to get cancer.

Health organizations around the world are issuing a call to action, asking the United States government to help fund cervical cancer vaccinations and to ratify an international tobacco control treaty.

"Few are aware that cancer already kills more people in poor countries than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. And if current smoking trends continue, the problem will get significantly worse," said Dr. Douglas Blayney, president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Smoking in Canada has gone down thanks to aggressive anti-smoking ads and increased taxes on cigarettes, but one in five Canadians still smoke. Evidently most people still haven't heard of smokeless cigarettes.

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