Lifestyle changes are important to prevent cancer, not just treat it. Photo: Dan Hansson/TT.
World Cancer Day

One in three Swedes will contract cancer

It's the World Cancer Day, and the World Health Organisation is warning that the globe is facing a "tidal wave" of cancer. By the year 2032, 25 million people around the world will be diagnosed with cancer per year. Of the people living in Sweden today, one in three will be given a cancer diagnosis before we die.

Most of us, will have made it past our 65th birthday by the time this happens, according to Elisabeth Johansson of the Swedish Cancer society.

"The number of cancer cases in Sweden increase between one and two percent over two decades, she says. The most common form here is breast cancer for women, and prostate cancer for men. But the one that most people die of is lung cancer," she says.

Internationally, the WHO says we have to start considering restrictions on alcohol and sugar  - and that there is a  "real need" to focus much more on cancer prevention by tackling smoking, obesity and drinking.

Many people believe cancer runs in the family, but that is only true in a small number of cases. Instead, most of us could do more to significantly reduce the risk of getting the disease.

Elisabeth Andersson at the Cancer Society says this is the bit where we all can do something to make a difference.

It is the usual list: Don't smoke. Don't drink more than one unit of alcohol per day if you are a woman, two if you are a man. Do see to that you are physically active at least half an hour per day - and that doesn't necessarily mean sweating it out in the gym, but a brisk walk is sufficient. Do eat your fruit and veg, and food with fibres, but stay clear of too much red meat - switching to poultry and fish when you can.

In Sweden, the number of people with malign melanoma is particularly on the rise, so avoiding going out in the summer sun between 11 and 3 pm is a good advice, says Elisabeth Johansson, even though this hardly is an issue at this time of the year.

On the positive side for people living in Sweden, the cancer treatment here is relatively good, compared to the developing countries, where the diagnosis often comes late, and there are fewer resources to spend on treatment and follow-up. Nevertheless, the WHO predicts a sharp rise in health care costs for cancer treatment also in the more wealthy nations.

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