Andrew, a self-employed art therapist has lost two partners to cancer. If you think it couldn’t happen to you or your family think again. Experts are now predicting the steepest rise in cancer rates the world has ever seen. It’s a sobering thought that cancer rates may increase 75% between now and 2030. This is no pie-in-the-sky prediction but is based on cancer statistics collected from 184 countries in 2008.  The findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lead it to predict an increase in new cancer cases worldwide to 22.2 million by 2030, up from 12.7 million in 2008.

The key reason for the increase is the spread of unhealthy Western lifestyles to developing countries. So while it’s believed that cancers linked to infection will fall, cancers linked to lifestyle choices will spiral.

Cancers linked to infection include cervical, stomach and liver. On the other hand cancers linked to lifestyle factors include prostrate, breast and bowel cancers.

In 2008, 40% of the world’s cancer cases were in highly developed countries in the West even although these countries have only 15% of the world’s population. But by 2030 cancer cases in the world’s poorest countries could rise by as much as 90% due to behavioural and lifestyle factors such as eating more convenience food, higher obesity and increased smoking.

Why mention this here? Well Andrew’s partners both died of breast cancer. The IARC study shows how western lifestyle choices will ravage the poorest countries introducing higher rates of specific cancers.

The IARC figures clearly highlight the factors which increase cancer risk worldwide. If you don’t want to change your lifestyle you should at least make sure you’re properly protected in case the worse happens.

To put this in context.  The UK has rising obesity levels and a relatively inactive population (the third least active in Europe).  This means you don’t need to smoke to be at higher risk.