Each year 1.9 million lives are lost to cancers caused by four preventable risk factors across the BRICS countries (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa), the United Kingdom, and the USA, according to a new study by researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Queen Mary University of London, and King’s College London. Together, the seven countries analysed represent more than half of the global burden of cancer deaths each year.
The new study, published today in eClinicalMedicine, looked at the impact of four preventable risk factors – tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, overweight or obesity, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections – on cancer deaths. Tobacco smoking was by far the biggest driver of preventable cancer deaths, causing 1.3 million deaths – more than two thirds of the preventable cancer deaths due to these four risk factors.
The study also analysed the years of life lost due to cancer, to investigate whether some risk factors are causing deaths more prematurely and to better measure the impact of cancer deaths on society; for example, a cancer death at age 60 years will result in more years of life lost compared with a death at age 80 years.
The researchers found that the four preventable risk factors result in more than 30 million years of life lost each year. Of the 30 million years of life lost from cancer due to these risk factors, tobacco smoking had the biggest impact by far, leading to 20.8 million years of life lost.
The number of years of life lost due to preventable cancers each year was calculated by using the age at which patients with cancer died from the disease and the average life expectancy for the general population at that age, to estimate how many years of life are lost due to cancer.
Rumgay H, Cabasag CJ, Offman J, Camargo Cancela M, Barchuk A, Mathur P, et al.
International burden of cancer deaths and years of life lost from cancer attributable to four major risk factors: a population-based study in Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and United States
eClinicalMedicine, Published online 16 November 2023;
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