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Study Predicts Huge Increase in Cancer Ahead

Monday, May 04, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: cancer, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Just when we're all saturated with alarming news about a pending flu epidemic, new research from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center concludes a virtual epidemic of an even more dreaded disease -- cancer -- is headed our way. In fact, the scientists say over the next two decades, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. will increase by 45 percent. This dramatic spike in incidence is expected to especially hit the growing older Baby Boomers and non-white populations, with an amazing 100 percent increase in cancer expected for minorities.

But while the new study has sobering warnings, it can also be taken as a positive wake-up call. There's no reason to let the new data make you feel hopeless or helpless about a malignancy striking. Bottom line: numerous other studies have shown much cancer can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle.

To come up with their projections for an impending explosion in the cancer rate, the M.D. Anderson team accessed U.S. Census Bureau statistics, updated in 2008 to project population growth through 2050, and the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry. Then cancer incidence rates were figured out by multiplying the age, sex, race and origin-specific population projections by the age, sex, race and origin-specific cancer incidence rates.

The study, just published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first to develop this kind of specific long-term cancer incidence projection. And the results are sobering. According to the researchers, we can expect a 67 percent increase in the number of adults age-65-or-older diagnosed with cancer (from 1 million in 2010 to 1.6 million in 2030) and, for non-white individuals over the same two-decade span of time, the incidence of malignancies will supposedly increase from 330,000 to 660,000.

Think the news can't get any worse? In a media statement, the study's senior author, Ben Smith, M.D., adjunct assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Radiation Oncology, points out the soaring cancer rate will put enormous stress on the U.S. health care system -- which many describe as already unwieldy and even broken. "There's no doubt the increasing incidence of cancer is a very important societal issue. There will not be one solution to this problem, but many different issues that need to be addressed to prepare for these changes," Smith stated. "I'm afraid if we don't come to grips with this as a society, health care may be the next bubble to burst."

"Also alarming is that a number of the types of cancers that are expected to increase, such as liver, stomach and pancreas, still have tremendously high mortality rates," Dr. Smith said in a press release. He also warned that unless specific prevention and treatment methods are discovered, the rate of deaths from cancer will also rise dramatically.

However, before anyone takes this new study as more gloom-and-doom about some horrendously dangerous and inevitable health disaster ahead, remember that earlier research has reached other, dramatic conclusions about cancer. Instead of worrying about a malignancy striking your body, remember that a large amount of data shows cancer can be prevented in many cases by taking charge of your own health.

A case in point: back in February, a study by scientists at the American Institute for Cancer Research and the U.K.-based World Cancer Research Fund found more than a third (34 percent) of all cancer cases in America could be prevented simply by people eating better, exercising more and maintaining healthier weights. In fact, the study suggested that these fairly simple lifestyle changes could prevent as many as 38 percent of breast cancer cases and 45 percent of bowel cancers in the U.S.

In addition, researchers at Harvard evaluated the body of research into the causes of cancer and concluded the largest contributing factors to cancer involve lifestyle choices -- with about 70 percent of all cancer deaths attributed to smoking, diet and drinking habits, or a "sedentary lifestyle." And the American Cancer Society says most cancer deaths can be avoided and that the disease itself is mostly avoidable with healthy lifestyle choices.

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About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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