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Cancer Death Rates By the end of this decade, cancer will become the number one killer worldwide. Projections are that by 2030, 27 million people will be diagnosed with cancer annually and seventeen million will die.

Cancer used to be "the disease" of highly industrialized countries. Today, that's no longer true. An astounding fact is that globally, more people die from cancer than infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

The reason may be that people are adopting a Western lifestyle which includes high fat diets, less physical activity, and more tobacco use. More than 1.3 billion people now smoke.

The rates climbed dramatically starting in the 1980s when tobacco companies began aggressively marketing overseas. Cancers from smoking will keep increasing over the next forty years - that's the time it takes for the health effects to manifest.

Another cancer that's becoming significant in the developing world is cervical cancer. Women there don't have access to regular pap smears or the HPV vaccine which protects women from a virus that causes 70 percent of cervical cancers.

Paying for the vaccine is a challenge and so is getting families to vaccinate their young girls. That's when the vaccine is most effective but since HPV is sexually transmitted, cultural barriers may keep some girls from getting the shot.

That's not all. Other cancers on the rise in developing countries are stomach, liver, and oral cancers. It wasn't like this in 1970 when only fifteen percent of cancer deaths occurred in these countries.

Today over half of new cases and two thirds of cancer deaths are in the developing world. But we have an opportunity to help change that especially since the US is seeing its first ever decline in overall cancer rates.

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The Rise in Cancer Rates in Developing Countries
Controlling Cancer in Developing Countries: Prevention and Treatment Strategies Merit Further Study "Cancer imposes a major disease burden worldwide, with considerable variation among countries and regions. Cancers associated with bacterial or viral infections, such as cervical, liver, and stomach cancer, make up a larger share of total cases in developing than in developed countries. Lung, colorectal,breast, and prostate cancers, on the other hand, appear at higher rates in developed countries because they are related to tobacco use, diet, and carcinogens in the workplace. These cancers are becoming more common in developing countries as people increasingly adopt the living habits of wealthier nations, especially smoking."
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Tobacco's role in increasing the chance of lung cancer is one of the most widely known of tobacco's harmful effects on human health.
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Cancer in the developing world: can we avoid the disaster?Correspondence about the rise of different cancers in the developing world and the link to adoption of Western lifestyles. Published in Nature Clinical Practice Oncology (2006) 3, 582-583.
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