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Obesity, poor lifestyle and food choices can put Latinos on path to cancer diagnosis

LatinaLista — Usually when there is a group effort to combat a particular disease or medical issue, there is good news to report. Just look at how far the global community has come in addressing HIV/AIDS. Though the disease is not eradicated, strides have been made ever since that first World Aids Day.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about cancer.

Even without today’s World Health Organization’s World Cancer Report, in observance of World Cancer Day, it’s understood how physically, emotionally and financially crippling a cancer diagnosis is for a person or family — and, according to the report, it’s only going to get worse.

The report, published every five years, reveals that cancer cases are expected to surge 57 percent worldwide in the next 20 years, going from an estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million new cases a year. During that same period, cancer deaths are predicted to rise from an estimated 8.2 million annually to 13 million a year.

The report’s authors found that “more than 60% of the world’s total new annual cases occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. These regions account for 70% of the world’s cancer deaths.”

The most common cancer deaths are from lung, breast, large bowel, liver and stomach. Tobacco use was faulted in the report to be the cause of over 20 percent of global cancer deaths and about 70 percent of global lung cancer deaths.

The researchers advise that education to eating better and living a healthier lifestyle is the key to preventing and/or stemming the massive rise in cancer deaths. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said that bad diet and obesity cause 12 different cancers, with tobacco accounting for 33 percent of all cancers in the U.S. and bad diet, obesity and lack of exercise accounting for 28 percent — news that doesn’t bode well for Latinos.

In the American Cancer Society’s report on cancer facts among Latinos from 2012-2014, it was found cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, accounting for 21 percent of deaths overall and 15 percent of deaths in children.

Cancer is such a crippling disease on several levels that the financial toll of a cancer diagnosis has served as one of the main arguments in support of the nation’s new Affordable Care Act. It hasn’t been uncommon for people to use Kickstarter or Indiegogo to help families raise funds to defray medical costs. The practice has been so widespread in the last couple of years that dedicated sites for cancer crowdfunding are now emerging.

The biggest takeaway from today’s alarming report is that cancer does not have to be everyone’s fate. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if detected early and treated adequately — and people understand that eating and living healthy are not New Year’s resolutions to be started next year.

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