The new research is the first to estimate how a comprehensive list of risk factors contribute to cancer deaths and ill health globally, regionally, and nationally, across age groups, for both sexes, and over time.
“This study illustrates that the burden of cancer remains an important public health challenge that is growing in magnitude around the world. Smoking continues to be the leading risk factor for cancer globally, with other substantial contributors to cancer burden varying,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine and a co-senior author of the study.
Using results from the GBD 2019 study , the authors investigated how 34 behavioral, metabolic, and environmental and occupational risk factors contributed to deaths and ill health due to 23 cancer types in 2019. Changes in cancer burden between 2010 and 2019 due to risk factors were also assessed. Estimates of cancer burden were based on mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), a measure of years of life lost to death and years lived with disability.
The leading cause of risk-attributable cancer death for both men and women globally was tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer, which accounted for 36.9% of all cancer deaths attributable to risk factors. This was followed by colon and rectum cancer (13.3%), esophageal cancer (9.7%), and stomach cancer (6.6%) in men, and cervical cancer (17.9%), colon and rectum cancer (15.8%), and breast cancer (11%) in women.
To date, most studies agree that keeping a high body mass index, unsafe sexual relations and dietary risks represent other vulnerabilities that have an impact on cancer.