There are stark geographical contrasts in the incidence of colon cancer worldwide. The new study analyses the causes of these disparities, starting with Spanish trends between 1951 and 2006 in terms of certain changes in consumption (tobacco, alcohol, red and processed meat, fish, vegetables...) and also behaviour (physical exercise, sedentary lifestyles).
The results, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, show that mortality due to colon cancer increased between 1951 and 2000 in both sexes. The positive finding is that between 2000 and 2006 the number of deaths stabilised in men and decreased in women.
"Through the second half of the twentieth century many industrialised countries saw reductions in incidence and mortality rates and, in some cases, countries who previously experienced rates as high as Spain now have lower levels. The most striking phenomenon is the unstoppable increase in the incidence in men and women", Luis Mara Bjar, main author of the study and researcher at the University of Seville, explains to SINC.
Colon cancer has the second-highest incidence and mortality rate of any tumour in Spain, behind lung cancer for men and breast cancer for women. In 2006, 13,101 people died from colon cancer in Spain, constituting 12.9% of the total deaths from cancer in that year.
What is behind these differences?
Several exposure factors associated with behaviour can explain these trends, primarily the consumption of tobacco and alcohol. "In Spain, per capita consumption of cigarettes in the period 1960-2006 shows a substantial increase until the end of the '80s, followed by a significant reduction in subsequent years, with consumption stabilising from the late '90s", states Bjar.
"As in many other countries, the price of cigarettes in relation to income has determined consumption. However, regional and state governments have been inexplicably backward when it comes to implem
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology