From 1990 to 2019, 1.3 million lives have been lost annually to cancers caused by smoking tobacco across India, United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa, according to a new study. These seven countries represented more than half of the global burden of cancer deaths every year, the study revealed.
The study, funded by Cancer Research UK and led by researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Kings College London, investigated the years of life lost to cancer, a Eureka Alert! report explains. The findings show that smoking, and three other preventable risk factors – alcohol, overweight or obesity, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections have led to almost two million deaths in the seven countries.
The findings showed that the four preventable risk factors caused over 30 million years of life lost each year. Notably, smoking tobacco had the biggest impact, leading to 20.8 million years of life being lost, the report revealed.
Globally, cancer is increasingly impacting low- and middle-income countries. An analysis by Cancer Research UK showed that new cancer cases will rise by around 400%, from 0.6 million to 3.1 million every year in low-income countries over the next 50 years, the report elaborated. The findings were published in the journal eClinicalMedicine.
A key finding was that the preventable risk factors were associated with different cancer types in different regions. According to the findings, in India, there were more premature deaths from head and neck cancer in men and gynaecological cancer in women, but in other countries, tobacco smoking caused the most years of life to be lost because of lung cancer.
Researchers also observed gender differences in the number of cancer deaths and years of life lost. Men were observed to have higher rates of years of life lost to smoking and drinking alcohol. Furthermore, in China, India and Russia, rates of years of life lost to tobacco smoking and alcohol were up to nine times higher in men than women.
Moreover, in India, HPV had high rates of years of life lost with huge gender differences. The rates were 11 times higher for women than men in India. This indicates that access to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination need to be significantly improved in the country.
“Globally, someone dies every two minutes from cervical cancer. 90% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries and could be cut drastically with comprehensive screening and HPV vaccination programmes,” study author Judith Offman said in the report.