Last year, the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide were lung (1.8 million or 13 percent of the total) breast (1.7 million, 11.9 percent) and colon cancer (1.4 million or 9.7 percent) (IARC). Lung cancer resulted in the deaths of 1.6 million people who died from cancer last year, the report said — 19.4 percent. Other major cancer killers were liver cancer (800,000 or 9.1 percent), stomach cancer (723,000 or 8.8 percent), colon cancer (694,000 or 8.5 percent), breast cancer (522,000 or 6.4 percent), esophagal cancer (400,000 or 4.9 percent) and cervical cancer (266,000 or 3.2 percent).

In the US Women, minorities, and migrants in the United States face a growing risk from cancers of the lung, breast and thyroid and deaths from cancer will increase by more than 25 percent over the next decade. While lung cancer rates have been coming down considerably in men, they’ve been increasing for women. Last year in the United States 75,852 women died of lung cancer — 25.9 percent of all women who died of cancer that year. Breast cancer accounted for 15 percent of female deaths, about 43,000.

A study in the UK found the lifetime risk of cancer for people born since 1960 is more than 50% compared to those born 30. Over half of people who are currently adults under the age of 65 years will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Whereas smoking-related cancers have become less common in men, other cancers have become more common. In women, breast and lung cancers have increased substantially since the mid 1970’s. The increase in breast cancer is related to lifestyle changes, such as increasing obesity. In men, there has been an increase in the incidence of prostate and bowel cancer. The increase in bowel cancer rates is thought to be related to an increase in red meat consumption and obesity (Center et al, 2009). (Trends in the lifetime risk of developing cancer in Great Britain: comparison of risk for those born from 1930 to 1960 A S Ahmad, N Ormiston-Smith and P D Sasieni)

While in Australia results show we are nearly four times as likely to have thyroid cancer, three times as likely to have Liver Cancer and twice as likely to have Melanoma, Motor Neuron Disease, Kidney or Anal cancer compared to 30 years earlier. Men are more than twice as likely to have prostate cancer and 60% more likely to have testicular cancer.  Women are 43% more likely to have breast cancer.  Children are 6 times as likely to suffer from leukemia than just 20 years ago.

So what is driving the increases in cancer?