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    Smoking, Alcohol, Obesity Were Leading Causes of Cancer Deaths in 2019

    Research published in the Lancet concludes that addressing smoking, alcohol use, and BMI is by far the most effective strategy to decrease cancer mortality

    20 Aug 2022

    Rabat - Smoking, alcohol, and a high Body Mass Index (BMI), an index tracking obesity, were the leading cause of cancer deaths in 2019.

    A research paper published last week in American medical research journal the Lancet indicates that there is a strong correlation between the above-mentioned risk factors and cancer-induced deaths.

    According to the research, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both sexes was smoking, followed by alcohol and high BMI.

    Research findings indicate that around 4.5 million deaths occurring in 2019 were directly attributed to smoking, alcohol use, and BMI.

    The research concludes that while cancer mortality can be the result of factors of non-preventable risk factors such as genetics, addressing smoking, alcohol use, and BMI is by far the most effective strategy to decrease cancer mortality.

    In addition to bringing down the cancer mortality rate, addressing these health risks would be effective in reducing worldwide DALY (disability-adjusted life year) rates, a measure of the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability, or premature death.

    Regarding DALY rates, the researchers concluded that the three risk factors accounted for 105 million years lost worldwide to ill-health, disability, or premature death.

    Commenting on the study, the University of Washington’s Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Christopher Murray reportedly said that the study “ illustrates that the burden of cancer remains an important public health challenge that is growing in magnitude around the world.”

    “Smoking continues to be the leading risk factor for cancer globally, with other substantial contributors to cancer burden varying,” Murray added.

    The research concludes by highlighting that policymakers could intervene to address cancer mortality by reducing behavioral risks, adding that preventive measures remain the more cost-efficient in the case of cancer, given the high cost of treating cancer.


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