New report shows almost half of cancer deaths worldwide are due to preventable factors

A new report published this week by the medical journal The Lancet found almost half of global cancer deaths are caused by preventable risk factors.

The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and carried out by researchers at Washington University’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, revealed that 44.4 percent of worldwide deaths from cancer could have been prevented by lifestyle changes earlier in life. The three top risk factors include smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and high body mass index.

The report found that between 2010 and 2019, metabolic risk factors – including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high BMI – were the leading preventable risk factor in cancer deaths worldwide. 

“The leading risk factors contributing to global cancer burden in 2019 were behavioural, whereas metabolic risk factors saw the largest increases between 2010 and 2019,” the report reads. “Reducing exposure to these modifiable risk factors would decrease cancer mortality and DALY rates worldwide, and policies should be tailored appropriately to local cancer risk factor burden.”

The report showed the leading types of cancer that led to preventable deaths in both men and women in the nine year period studied were: tracheal, lung, and bronchus cancer.

“Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, and exposure to risk factors plays an important role in the biology and burden of many cancer types,” wrote the authors of the report.

The researchers say responsible policymaking is one of the most effective ways to decrease preventable cancer deaths. “Understanding the relative contribution of modifiable risk factors to cancer burden and their trends over time is crucial to informing cancer control efforts both locally and globally,” they wrote.




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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