Smoking and other factors cause 4.45 million global cancer deaths each year

“This study illustrates that the burden of cancer remains an important public health challenge that is growing in magnitude around the world,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine and a co-senior author of the study.

Smoking: The leading risk factor for cancer

“Smoking continues to be the leading risk factor for cancer globally, with other substantial contributors to cancer burden varying. Our findings can help policymakers and researchers identify key risk factors that could be targeted in efforts to reduce deaths and ill health from cancer regionally, nationally, and globally,” he further added.

The study indicated that the vast majority of cancer worldwide was caused by behavioral risk factors such as smoking, alcohol use, unsafe sex, and dietary risks, which account for 3.7 million fatalities. It also turned out that for both sexes, the leading risk factors for cancer deaths were smoking, followed by alcohol use, and high BMI.

Largest project of its kind

The study used the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors (GBD) study from 2019 to investigate how 34 behavioral, metabolic, environmental, and occupational risk factors influenced deaths and ill health due to 23 cancer types in 2019.

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