Cancer prevalenceThis is a featured page

Where you live can have a profound effect on whether or not you develop cancer. Sure, the ancient Egyptians were dying of cancer, but are modern-day Egyptians dying of cancer at higher rates? What about the rest of the world? And you don’t need to be living downwind from Chernobyl to find yourself in an area with unusually high instances of cancer.

Curious what the cancer rate is in your neck of the woods? The National Cancer Institute has graphs and charts for the most-common cancers in each state.

What do we know?
We know that more people are being diagnosed with cancer around the globe, even as the death rate for cancer patients has declined. Global cancer rates have doubled during the past 30 years, and are projected to increase 50% by 2020.

Looking at worldwide cancer rates, a clear continental breakdown is easy to notice. Statistically, North Americans get cancer more frequently than people in other parts of the world, with Western Europe and Australia coming in second as the geographic area with the highest cancer rates.

The lowest cancer rates are in North Africa, with Central America, Sub-Sahara Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian sub-continent all falling into the category with the second-lowest cancer rates.

In the US, we know that in 2004, Utah and Hawaii had the lowest rates of cancer deaths, while Louisiana and Mississippi had the greatest number of cancer deaths.

What is the cause?
Maps of cancer trends worldwide show the highest rates of cancer to be in industrialized Western countries. Is this because people in these countries simply have longer life-expectancies, thus increasing the chances they will develop cancer over their lifetimes? Or is there something else to blame?

While people in the West tend to live longer, they are also living surrounded by an ever-increasing litany of substances with cancer-causing agents.

In the developing world, up to 23% of cancers are caused by infectious agents, such as hepatitis B and C, while in the developed world where there is better public health, this is the cause of only 8 % of cancers.

People in the developed world are more than twice as likely to develop cancer, while people with cancer in the developing countries are more likely to be diagnosed only in the late stages of their illness, thus dramatically decreasing their chances of survival.

Western diet and lifestyle habits contribute to the high rates of cancer. Smoking is the voluntary activity which causes the largest number of preventable cancers. Lung cancer is the most-common type of cancer worldwide.

Colon cancer, rare in the developing world, is among the most frequent in the developed world. Diets high in fat and with high rates of meat consumption contribute to colon cancer.

Environmental factors, such as building materials, cleaning supplies, and environmental toxins can also contribute to cancer. Studies such as the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project have examined the connection between cancer and the environment.

As people in developing countries continue to adopt Western dietary habits as they gain wealth, their rates of colon, breast, prostate, and cervical cancer will also increase. The World Health Organization has more information on global cancer rates.

Is anywhere “safe”?
Living in an area with a statistically lower incidence of cancer seems like a nice idea. Avoiding the carcinogens in your neighborhood might mean moving across town, across the country, or across the world. That’s not an option for most of the world’s population, nor is it a responsible approach to cancer prevention.

You can make your home safe by avoiding carcinogens in household products and learning to recognize and avoid the lifestyle causes of high Western rates of cancer by refraining from smoking, taking up regular exercise, and eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Find out what the sources of carcinogens are in your area. Avoiding the environmental factors which cause cancer shouldn’t mean moving away from them.
Environmental toxins can be created by industrial processes
Rather, it should be an alarm that its time to stop putting them into the environment and invest resources into developing alternatives that don't cause cancer.

We need to force companies to take accountability for and clean up the toxic, cancer-causing messes they have left behind.

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Latest page update: made by wetpaint , Feb 22 2006, 12:02 PM EST (about this update About This Update wetpaint Image - wetpaint

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