Why Are Cancer Rates Increasing?
In the last few years the number of diagnoses for cancer has gone up, we are now at the point where one in two people will suffer from cancer. A lot of people are blaming this dramatic rise in the amount of toxic chemicals we are regularly exposed to, our bad diets and radiation from mobile phones. These are all things that could impact the diagnoses of cancer but they are not the only factors that are driving up cancer rates.
The primary reason more people are diagnosed with cancer each year is because the process of ageing has changed dramatically. Even as recently as 100 years ago men’s life expectancy was 51 but in 2012 it was 79. The jump was even higher for women with them expected to live to 55 in 1910 but by the 21st century this has risen to 83.
Life expectancy and cancer may not seem like they are related but the longer you live the more likely you are to develop cancer. More than three quarters of people diagnosed with cancer are over the age of 60. Cancer is a disease in all of our genes – these are the bits of DNA code that hold instructions for every cell. Over time mistakes will accumulate in this code and it is this error that leads to cells becoming cancerous. As we become older these errors build up and in turn our risk of cancer steadily goes up.
Culture and Lifestyle
It would be unfair to say age is the only reason cancer rates are increasing because the way we treat our bodies is also having a detrimental effect. For instance, diets high in red and processed meats have created an epidemic of bowel cancer. The tanning obsession has seen rates of melanoma diagnosis skyrocket. Our culture and society is having an effect on increasing cancer rates however, this will become less prevalent in the future as we develop better understanding of what actually causes cancer.
As we understand more about cancer our ability to detect it has greatly improved. Regular screenings now take place for a variety of common cancers including breast, prostate and cervical. This has led to an increased detection of these cancers because we are better at identifying them and are actively looking for them.
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