Although overall mortality from cancer is decreasing in the European Union, its incidence increased by almost 20%, from 2.1 million new cases in 2002 to 2.5 million in 2008, says a special issue  of the European Journal of Cancer (the official journal of ECCO the European CanCer Organisation) on cancer prevention, published today (Monday 13 September).
The current economic crisis threatens to affect cancer incidence in a number of areas, says a paper by Dr. Jos M. Martin-Moreno from the University of Valencia, Spain, and colleagues. Public donations to cancer research funded by charitable organisations will fall, and governments as well as the pharmaceutical industry are likely to cut research and development budgets, say the researchers.
The prospects for disease caused by occupational exposure to carcinogens are also likely to worsen, they say. "Both private companies and governments tend to take shortcuts in occupational safety controls during periods of economic hardship," said Dr. Martin-Moreno "and this is especially true for small companies and in developing countries."
For example, a Korean study  carried out in the late 1990s linked the reduction of health and safety costs directly to the ability to avoid bankruptcy. "This exemplifies the terrible choice businesses have to make in times of economic downturn reduced safety for workers or economic ruin," said Dr. Martin-Moreno. For industries with potentially high levels of carcinogenic contamination such as mining this effect is compounded, he said.
Cancer prevention, like cancer itself, encompasses a large number of diverse factors including lifestyle choices, genetics, environment, occupation, infections and access to preventive healthcare, the researchers say. Cancer control efforts, therefore, can overlap with everything from the control of hypertension to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Unless forceful action is undertaken now, the cancer bu
|Contact: Mary Rice|
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation