The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has launched its World Cancer Report 2014 today. This report is a collaboration of over 250 leading scientists from more than 40 countries. The report describes multiple aspects of cancer research and control. Not surprisingly, theses scientists concur that we need to put more emphasis on prevention than treatment. They also predict a significant increase in new cancer cases worldwide over the next two decades. From the press release:
In 2012, the worldwide burden of cancer rose to an estimated 14 million new cases per year, a figure expected to rise to 22 million annually within the next two decades. Over the same period, cancer deaths are predicted to rise from an estimated 8.2 million annually to 13 million per year. Globally, in 2012 the most common cancers diagnosed were those of the lung (1.8 million cases, 13.0% of the total), breast (1.7 million, 11.9%), and large bowel (1.4 million, 9.7%). The most common causes of cancer death were cancers of the lung (1.6 million, 19.4% of the total), liver (0.8 million, 9.1%), and stomach (0.7 million, 8.8%).
Their research has also shown that prevention and early detection does make a difference. They suggest this, with effective legislative controls can make a significant difference:
Lessons from cancer control measures in high-income countries show that prevention works but that health promotion alone is insufficient. Adequate legislation plays an important role in reducing exposure and risk behaviours.
For instance, the first international treaty sponsored by WHO, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, has been critical in reducing tobacco consumption through taxes, advertising restrictions, and other regulations and measures to control and discourage the use of tobacco.
Similar approaches also need to be evaluated in other areas, notably consumption of alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages, and in limiting exposure to occupational and environmental carcinogenic risks, including air pollution.
While we may have better detection systems in place in the West and better access to doctors and treatment, there is still much we can do to prevent cancer. I note their reference to sugar above, which has been and continues to be studied in connection to everything from autoimmune disorders, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and the big C… But don’t go and switch to artificial sweeteners or you could end up exposing yourself to known carcinogens. I have found a really good natural, low-glycemic sugar and I’ll introduce you to it with a recipe later this week.