As nations develop economically and adopt more Western diet and lifestyle, colorectal cancer increases. In fact, the United States is the only nation in the world where colorectal cancer incidence rates are falling for both men and women.
Over the past 20 years, colorectal cancer rates have risen in 27 of 51 countries including Eastern Europe, most of Asia, and some South American countries. Rates for men are rising faster than those for women.
Information for the study was obtained from the Cancer Incidence in Five Continents databased developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It compared new cases of colorectal cancer from 1983 through 2002.
Among dramatic increases was a 70 percent male and 28 percent female rise in colorectal cancer in Slovenia. In Mijagi, Japan male rates nearly doubled, while female rates increased 47 percent. In some countries, like Israel, there are significant differences in incidence among different ethnic groups,
Rates for men in Japan, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic have now surpassed peak US rates and are still rising.
Researchers attribute the growth in new cases of colon and rectal cancer to the adoption of Western lifestyles including obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, heavy use of alcohol, and diets with lots of red or processed meats and fewer fruits and vegetables.
Writing for colleagues at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Melissa M. Center concluded,
Colorectal cancer incidence rates continue to increase in economically transitioning countries, with incidence rates among men in the Czech Republic and Slovakia exceeding the peak incidence observed in the United States and other long-standing developed nations. Targeted prevention and early detection programs could help reverse the trend in these countries.
SOURCE: Center et al., Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, Volume 18, Number 6, June 2009.