It’s a shame this article bangs on about drugs and NICE rather than what we can do about keeping ourselves healthy. Yes, it pays lip service to stopping smoking, drinking andd keeping a healthy weight, but as my friend Dawn Waldron says (a cancer survivor and now a qualified nutritionist and counsellor):
‘Only 5% of cancers are genetic in origin: most breast cancer cases are diet and lifestyle related. We know that cancer rates are higher for patients with type 2 (lifestyle) diabetes and obesity, especially breast, and we know that patients on blood-sugar-lowering metformin have significantly lower incidence of cancer. The best way to reduce your risk is to reduce your intake of sugars and starches. Don’t wait for diagnosis before you make the change.’
Take a look at the recipes and tips in my website for a relatively sugar-free diet incorporating healthy immunity-boosting ingredients , do yoga and meditation, walk briskly to and from your destinations for at least 30- 60 minutes, and limit your alcohol intake to 3 days per week (my halo is shining since Dry January!). Prevention is often better than a cure!
Cancer rates will increase nearly six times faster in women than in men over the next 20 years, with obesity partly to blame, experts predict.
As several of the obesity-related cancer types only affect women, the growing number of people of both sexes who are severely overweight is likely to have a greater effect on incidence of the disease among women, according to the analysis by Cancer Research UK.
Cases of ovarian, cervical and oral cancers are predicted to rise the most. Rates will rise by around 0.5% for men and 3% for women, meaning an estimated 4.5 million women and 4.8 million men will be diagnosed with cancer by 2035.
That equates to projected UK cancer rates increasing by approximately 0.5% for men and 3% for women.
The figures were released on the same day as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) announced that it was recommending that the breast cancer drug palbociclib should not be routinely funded on the NHS in England.
Charities decried the decision by the drugs watchdog, stressing the importance of developing and supporting more treatments to help women to survive, but they also urged women to change their lifestyles to minimise their risk.
Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Sir Harpal Kumar said: “These new figures reveal the huge challenge we continue to face, both in the UK and worldwide. Research is at the heart of finding ways to reduce cancer’s burden and ensure more people survive, particularly for hard-to-treat cancers where the outlook for patients is still bleak. We need to keep working hard to reduce the devastating impact cancer can have on so many families.
“The latest figures show that more than 8 million people die from cancer each year across the world. More people die from cancer than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis put together. With more investment into research, we hope to make big improvements over the next 20 years in diagnosing the disease earlier and improving and developing treatments so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their disease.”
Smoking is another factor behind the projected growth of cancer casesamong women, which will mean the gap between the number of women and men with the disease narrows. Widespread smoking among women happened later than men and lighting up continues to have a big effect on the number of cancer cases diagnosed each year, says Cancer Research UK.
“It is concerning that rates are predicted to rise so sharply in women, especially as so many cancer cases could be prevented,” she said. “For example, about two in five breast cancer cases in the UK could be prevented if women maintained a healthy weight, were more physically active and didn’t drink alcohol – that’s around 20,000 fewer cases a year. Other cancers that could be reduced by women having a healthier lifestyle include womb and ovary.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, the director of health and wellbeing at Public HealthEngland, said: “The top things we can all do to prevent and reduce the risk of cancer are quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and attending cancer screening when invited.”
In draft guidance explaining its reasoning for its advice on palbociclib, which is made by Pfizer, the drug watchdog said that a full course of treatment costs £79,560. Although Nice found that the drug stalled the growth of the cancer for an extra 10 months on average “it was still not enough to make palbociclib cost effective at its current price”.
The watchdog estimates that around 5,500 people in England – out of 45,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer each year – would be eligible for treatment with palbociclib.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “This is the clearest illustration to date that the drug appraisal system is totally unfit for purpose in assessing first-in-class breast cancer medicines.
“Palbociclib could benefit a large proportion of metastatic breast cancer patients and may even be the closest thing these women would have to a cure in their lifetime.”
She urged Pfizer to reconsider its decision not to offer the NHS a discount on the list price and said the pharmaceutical giant must work with Nice to ensure the drug can be made widely available to women as soon as possible.
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), with its partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, led a major clinical trial of palbociclib.
Dr Nicholas Turner, team leader in Molecular Oncology at ICR and consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden, said: “Palbociclib is one of the most important advances in treating the most common type of breast cancer in 20 years.
“If the manufacturer, Nice, and NHS England can find a way of making this treatment available for patients, they will substantially improve the lives of patients with breast cancer.”
In December, Nice turned down another breast cancer drug, Kadcyla, made by Roche Pharmaceuticals, on financial grounds, triggering an outcry from patients’ groups who say it prolongs the lives of people who are seriously ill with the disease.
At present there are an estimated 7.4 million men and 6.7 million women being diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year. The disease is the leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 8.2m deaths in 2012 and approximately 15% of all deaths.