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Cancer News: The Good, the Bad, and Early Detection

Good news on the cancer front: deaths from the disease have dropped nearly 20 percent over the last 15 years.


Better treatment and preventative techniques are credited with saving 650,000 lives from cancer between 1990 and 2005. For men, the cancer death rate dropped by 19.2 percent due to decreases in lung, prostate, and colon cancers. The drop in cancer death rates for women is smaller, 11.4 percent, and is due to fewer deaths caused by breast and colorectal cancers. One significant reason for the lower breast cancer death rate is the decrease in hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women.

We started with the good news, so for a few warnings about cancer rates (aka the bad news), read more.

The obesity epidemic is contributing to rising cancer deaths in a variety of cancers: pancreatic for women, liver for both sexes, and esophageal in men. Fat in the body creates hormones, and hormones can create extra cellular activity — both normal and abnormal varieties. Abnormal cell mutations can lead to the creation of cancerous cells. Fat also acts as a storage facility for hormonally active pollutants, which could be carcinogenic as well. Even though rates of breast cancer deaths are falling, fat brings the onset of puberty early, and early puberty is a risk factor for breast cancer.

Early detection is key to fighting cancer. It is recommended that women receive annual mammograms at age 40, and that both men and women receive screenings for colon cancer starting at age 50.

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