By 2050, the World Health Organization's (WHO) cancer agency has cautioned that the number of newly reported cancer cases is anticipated to surpass 35 million, marking a 77% surge from the 2022 statistics.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of WHO, identified tobacco, alcohol, obesity and air pollution as pivotal contributors to this projected escalation.
The statement predicts a significant increase in new cancer cases, with an estimated 35 million in 2050, showing a 77% rise from the around 20 million cases reported in 2022. The growing global burden of cancer results from changes in demographics, population growth, and shifts in people's exposure to risk factors, many of which are associated with socioeconomic development.
The increase in cancer cases is mainly linked to major factors like tobacco, alcohol, and obesity, with air pollution remaining a significant contributor among environmental risk factors. Notably, the most developed nations are poised to observe the highest significant uptick in case numbers, projecting an additional 4.8 million new cases in 2050 compared to the 2022 estimates, according to WHO.
Conversely, countries scoring lower on the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI) are projected to experience the most significant proportional rise, reaching 142%. Meanwhile, countries falling within the medium HDI range are slated for a 99% surge. The WHO emphasizes that cancer mortality in these nations is anticipated to nearly double by 2050.
Freddie Bray, the head of the cancer surveillance branch at IARC, underscores the uneven distribution of the impending increase, emphasizing that countries with limited resources to manage their cancer burdens will bear the brunt of the escalating global cancer crisis.