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Breast cancer is now THE most common cancer in the world, says WHO

Updated on:30 April 2021, 12:41pm IST
The rising number of breast cancer cases have catapulted this disease to the number one spot—making it the most common cancer in the world.
Team Health Shots
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metastatic cancer
Breast cancer is even more common than lung cancer now. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

We’ve all known for a while now that breast cancer is the most commonly-occurring cancer in women. In fact, according to the World Cancer Research Funds the year 2018 saw over 2 million breast cancer cases all over the world.

Since then, the ever-rising number of breast cancer cases have actually catapulted this disease to the number one cancer in terms of incidence. Yes, breast cancer has overtaken lung cancer as the most common form of the disease.

“For the first time, breast cancer now constitutes the most commonly occurring cancer globally,” Andre Ilbawi, a cancer specialist at the WHO, told a UN briefing ahead of World Cancer Day on Thursday.

Lung cancer was the most common type for the last two decades, but is now in second place, ahead of colorectal cancer, which is the third most widespread, Ilbawi said.

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But why is breast cancer on a rise?

Ilbawi noted that obesity in women was a common risk factor in breast cancer, and is also driving overall cancer numbers.

As the global population grows and life expectancy increases, cancer is expected to become more common, rising to about 30 million new cases per year in 2040 from 19.3 million in 2020, Ilbawi said.

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting cancer treatment in about half the countries it surveyed, Ilbawi said, pointing to delays in diagnosis, healthcare workers being under extreme stress and research being impacted.

When it comes to breast cancer, a few lifestyle interventions can go a long way

Even if you are at a high risk of breast cancer, research suggests that making a few changes to your lifestyle can ensure that you are safe from this disease. Here are some you can adopt right now:

breast cancer
There is a link between diabetes and breast cancer. Image courtesy: Kantor Tegalsari from the Noun Project (via Creative Commons)

1. Keep your weight in check
2. Exercise regularly
3. Quit smoking
4. Drink less alcohol
5. Make fruits and vegetables a focus of your diet, and go easy on meat
6. Avoid medications that features hormones, especially after menopause

Keep these tips in mind and reduce your risk of breast cancer.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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We are a varied group of Health Shots writers, bringing you the healthiest scoop on wellness in town.