Study Suggests Alcohol and Smoking Cause Almost Half of Global Cancer Deaths


According to a new study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, nearly half of all cancer deaths worldwide can be prevented by smoking, alcohol, and high body mass (BMI).

The Lancet published a study on Thursday that examined cancer deaths from 2019 and found that 44% were due to preventable risks. Smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and a high body mass index were the three most common risk factors. The same risk factors were found in male and female patients.

The study found that 42% of all disability-adjusted years (or healthy years) due to cancer were also related to these risk factors.

The risk factors varied when the income brackets of different regions were adjusted. Unsafe sex was the most dangerous risk factor for countries with lower incomes, while regions with higher incomes experienced the other three global risk factors.

To analyze global cancer deaths and disabilities, the study used data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease Project.

Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, said that the study was the most comprehensive effort to estimate the global burden of cancer due to risk factors.

Researchers said that while some cases of cancer cannot be prevented, governments can support a society that reduces the risk of developing it. Although primary prevention (or the prevention of cancer from developing) is an extremely cost-effective strategy it should be paired with other comprehensive efforts to reduce the cancer burden.

Researchers also found that policies like the regulation and high taxation of tobacco products were making “substantial advances.”

Researchers clarified that “behavioral risk factors are strongly influenced based on the environment in which people reside and individuals with cancer should never be blamed for their illness.”


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