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UK has 22nd highest cancer rate in the world

UK has 12th highest cancer rate for women and 33rd highest for men

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 24 January 2011

The UK has the 22nd highest cancer rates in the world and Denmark has the very highest, reveals a league table published today.

The table, compiled by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) from World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, suggests that every year about 267 people out of every 100,000 in the UK develop cancer.

The UK is ranked 33rd in the world for cancers in men and 12th for cancers in women. The rate of breast cancer, which is particularly linked to excess body fat and alcohol consumption, is even higher – with the UK ranked 11th.

The league table shows that high-income countries generally have significantly higher cancer rates than lower income ones. For example, the only non-European countries in the top 20 are Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Israel, French Polynesia and Uruguay.

This is likely to be partly because high-income countries are better at diagnosing and recording new cases of cancer. But a large part of the reason is also that high-income countries tend to have higher levels of obesity and alcohol consumption, and lower levels of physical activity.

Professor Martin Wiseman, Medical and Scientific Adviser for WCRF, said: “We know that people in high-income countries are more likely to be overweight, to drink a lot of alcohol and to be inactive.

“There is strong scientific evidence that these factors increase risk of several common cancers and these figures show the effect of this. When you look at the list, it is clear that the countries that do worse for these factors tend to be nearer the top.”

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