Madrid (EFE).- In the next two decades, the entire world will face a real ‘tsunami’ of deaths and new cases of cancer, a challenge that, according to experts, can be avoided. A clue: 20% of cases are associated with smoking, alcohol or an unhealthy diet.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the next twenty years, cancer cases will grow by 47%, from 19 million in 2020 to 30 million in 2040 worldwide, especially in third world countries.
Furthermore, in that same period, the number of deaths will rise from ten million to 16.3 million, a true ‘tsunami’ that can only be avoided with prevention, the director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warned today. of the WHO, Elisabete Weiderpass.
On the occasion of World Cancer Research Day, Weiderpass has participated in Madrid in a conference organized by the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), which was also attended by the director of the National Epidemiology Center of the Carlos III Health Institute , Marina Pollán.
At the conference, which was inaugurated by the scientist and director of the CNIO, María Blasco, the three researchers highlighted the importance of prevention because almost half of today’s cancers could have been avoided with healthy lifestyle habits.
Factors that “certainly” cause cancer
In his speech, Weiderpass explained that there are a series of factors that are known “for certain” to cause cancer: tobacco, which is “public enemy number one”, and that in addition to killing one in two smokers, causes twenty different types of cancer.
In addition, there are other risk factors such as alcohol consumption, which causes 741,000 cases of cancer in the world every year, “even in low quantities,” he warned, or obesity, “which causes twelve different types of cancer” and which It has become a global Pandemic driven by the consumption of sugary drinks and ultra-processed products.
Likewise, the expert recalled that infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or the human papillomavirus also cause cancer but all of them are preventable with screening and check-ups and with vaccines, she stressed.
Weiderpass has also stressed the value of research because it is still necessary to investigate other risk factors such as benzene, processed meats, environmental pollution or exposure to asbestos, exposure to lead or aspartame (artificial sweetener).
Study, monitor and prevent
Studying, monitoring and preventing these factors is for Weiderpass “the best and most profitable way to avoid cancer,” he concluded.
For his part, Pollán explained that “not everything is in the genes” and that many types of cancer could be avoided by following simple guidelines such as not smoking, not drinking, following a healthy diet based on the consumption of whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables and olive oil.
In addition, following the WHO instructions such as avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and practicing 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (equivalent to walking briskly for half an hour a day) would be of great help, according to Pollán, who lamented that in Spain “40% of men and 30% of women” do absolutely no exercise in their free time.