Could More Cancer Be a Good Sign?

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The UN s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) predicted yesterday that worldwide cancer deaths would increase to 13.2 million by 2030, nearly twice the 2008 figure. IARC s new database also projects a shift of the cancer burden from wealthier to poorer nations.

Reuters scary headline, Cancer will kill 13.2 million a year by 2030 is misleading, as is often the case, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. The world s population, by becoming healthier, is also aging and thus susceptible to increasing cancer rates. Further, reducing the rate of childhood and infectious diseases in developing countries allows more people to survive to adulthood and get cancer.

ACSH's Jeff Stier agrees: It s hard to imagine that this would be good news, but at the end of the day, the death rate will always be 100 percent, so we d prefer that those deaths be associated with increased longevity. The problem is that some people will read this headline and say, Cancer deaths are doubling, so we have to ban dangerous chemicals! That s the take-home message people are going to get, when in fact this is likely a result of improvements in public health.