Cancer cases could rise by 72%


New cases of cancer in Ireland could rocket 72 per cent by 2030, health experts have warned.

Ireland has topped a list of 27 countries in the European Union with cases predicted to rise from 19,454 in 2008 to 33,416 in 18 years.

The league table, compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), showed Cyprus ranked a distant second with a 55 per cent rise, followed by Luxembourg with 53 per cent.

The UK ranks 16th on the list, where cases of the illness are expected to rise by 30 per cent.

WCRF spokesman Andy Wilks said the organisation could not speculate why Ireland had been predicted with such a drastic hike compared with its British neighbours.

“You would have to look at the factors relating to the causes behind cancer,” said Mr Wilks. “Things like smoking, diet, body weight, obesity is becoming a bigger issue.”

He explained that the European-wide increase in figures, sourced from the World Health Organisation, are based on population changes.

“Population is growing and also ageing, so you are going to have a high portion of an age group in which cancer is prevalent,” Mr Wilks said.

Ireland is expected to see a 91% hike in cancer cases among the over-65s, compared with 48 per cent among the same age group in the UK.

Cancer among the under-65s in Ireland has been predicted to increase 49 per cent, compared with a UK rise of 9 per cent.

Dr Rachel Thompson, deputy head of science at the WCRF, said: “We know people in high-income countries such as those in Western Europe are more likely to be overweight, to drink a lot and to be relatively inactive.

“There is strong evidence that these factors increase the risk of several common cancers. But many of these new cases could be prevented and lifestyle changes can make a real difference.”

Dr Thompson said the most common cancers among high-income countries can be easily avoided with healthier lifestyles.

She suggested maintaining a healthy weight, being more physically active and eating more healthily could potentially stave off certain illnesses.

Eastern European countries have been predicted to have the least significant increases in cancer.

Bulgaria is likely to fare the best, with an increase of just 2.2 per cent, followed by Latvia at 8.8 per cent.

The figures were released to coincide with World Cancer Day on Saturday.

Labour MEP Nessa Childers MEP said there should be tighter regulations on the food, drink and tobacco industries in Ireland to fight a potential cancer epidemic.

“We need to urgently look at introducing fat and sugar taxes and how these unhealthy foods are promoted, and even greater restrictions on the advertising and sale of tobacco,” she said.