Healthy living

Denmark tops cancer rates league table

Denmark tops cancer rates league table UK ranked 22nd

Denmark is the cancer capital of the world, a new league table of cancer rates suggests.

The table, compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), shows that around 326 out of every 100,000 people in Denmark develop cancer each year.

The figures also reveal that the UK has the 22nd highest cancer rates in the world.

Part of the reason for Denmark having the highest cancer rates may be because the country has a good record of diagnosing the disease early.

But there are also high rates of smoking among Danish women, and alcohol consumption in the country is also high. Both are risk factors for cancer.

In the UK, around 267 out of 100,000 people develop cancer each year.

When it comes to cancer rates in men, the UK is ranked 33rd in the world, but is 12th for cancer in women and 11th for breast cancer, with 80 out of 100,000 women developing the disease each year.

Overall, the league table, which was compiled using data from the World Health Organisation, shows that high-income countries generally have significantly higher cancer rates than lower income ones.

The only non-European countries in the top 20 for cancer rates are Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Israel, French Polynesia and Uruguay.

Part of the reason for this is likely to be because high-income countries are better at diagnosing cancer sooner. However, high-income countries also tend to have higher levels of obesity, alcohol consumption, and lower levels of physical activity - all risk factors for cancer.

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.

“The high incidence rates in the UK, Denmark and other high-income countries are not inevitable and lifestyle changes can make a real difference to people’s risk. In fact, scientists estimate that about a third of the most common cancers in the UK and other high-income countries could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, being more physically active and eating more healthily."

Overall cancer rates (per 100,000 people)

  1. Denmark (326)
  2. Ireland (317)
  3. Australia (314)
  4. New Zealand (309)
  5. Belgium (307)
  6. France (metropolitan) (300)
  7. USA (300)
  8. Norway (299)
  9. Canada (297)
  10. Czech Republic (295)

(The UK is 22nd on the list)

This article was published on Mon 24 January 2011

Image © Coka #8356859

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