Why is Denmark the cancer capital of the world?
Denmark has been named as the world’s cancer capital, with some 326 people in every 100,000 developing the disease each year.
By Nick Collins
One reason why Danish people seem to be particularly susceptible to cancer is that its record of diagnosing the disease is so good, meaning that more cases are picked up by the country’s doctors than in most other parts of the world.
But there are also lifestyle factors which could be having an influence on the figures reported by the World Cancer Research Fund from the World Health Organisation.
A larger than average proportion of Danish women are smokers, while the country also has high levels of alcohol consumption, both of which have been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer.
The figures show that high-income countries tend to have higher rates of cancer than less developed parts of the world, with 13 European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand among the top 20 states for overall cancer rates.
This is likely to be due in part to better diagnostics in developed countries, but the tendency of wealthier populations to be more obese, consume more alcohol and get less exercise are also a significant factor.
Professor Martin Wiseman, Medical and Scientific Adviser for WCRF, said: “We know that people in high-income countries are more likely to be overweight, to drink a lot of alcohol and to be inactive.
“There is strong scientific evidence that these factors increase risk of several common cancers and these figures show the effect of this. When you look at the list, it is clear that the countries that do worse for these factors tend to be nearer the top.
“The high incidence rates in the UK, Denmark and other high-income countries are not inevitable and lifestyle changes can make a real difference to people’s risk. In fact, scientists estimate that about a third of the most common cancers in the UK and other high-income countries could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, being more physically active and eating more healthily.”