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February 3, 2019

Governments Can Reduce Half of New Cancer Cases with Stronger Health Policies

(New York, USA): José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies, has issued the following statement to coincide with World Cancer Day 2019:

“Last year, more than 17 million people were diagnosed with cancer. Thirty people are diagnosed every minute, or one every two seconds. This does not have to be the case. Nearly half of cancer cases are preventable, and governments in many countries are failing to provide basic protections that could save millions of lives.

The risk factors that cause most preventable cancers are not mysterious. They include smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and air pollution. Addressing these problems does not require game-changing medical or technological advances. Proven, inexpensive policies such as taxes on harmful products, bans on smoking in public places and the elimination of trans fats from the food supply have saved and can save millions of lives. Governments only need to look to places where these policies have already been implemented as models.

This World Cancer Day, we urge governments to implement proven, lifesaving policies such as taxes on unhealthy products. Without urgent action, the human and economic toll of cancer will only increase.”

Cancer killed 9.6 million people globally in 2018. In that year, 17 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed, and experts predict that there will be 27.5 million new cancer cases worldwide each year by 2040, if recent cancer and population trends continue on their current path. This would represent a 62% increase in cancer incidence rates between 2018 and 2040. It’s estimated that 33% of cancer cases are linked to tobacco. In total, between 30-50% of cancer cases are preventable, offering policymakers a significant opportunity to reduce the growth of this epidemic.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach into 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable disease, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health. We consult with governments on issues including restricting junk food marketing to kids, promoting smoke-free laws, improving indoor and outdoor air quality, and strengthening road safety. These are protections that can add up to millions of lives saved. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.



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