Several newspapers in the UK reported this week that cancer rates have risen over the past two decades. That set into motion an analysis by the excellent “Behind the Headlines” service offered by the NHS Choices website. They found this in newspapers:
“Cancer rates in the middle-aged “have jumped by almost a fifth in a generation”, according to The Daily Telegraph, which says that the increase “is thought to be mainly due to better detection of cancers rather than people adopting more unhealthy lifestyles”. The Sun takes the alternate view, saying that doctors are “blaming the rise on obesity and home boozing”. The Daily Mail similarly suggests that lifestyle changes are to blame.”
You don’t have to live in the UK to learn from their analysis.
“One factor contributing to these increases is likely to be higher rates of detection due to the NHS breast cancer screening programme and the PSA test for prostate cancer. The raw data behind these stats also needs to be placed into context: these particular cancer diagnosis rates are drawn from the datasets for England from the Office of National Statistics and similar datasets from registries in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The ONS urges caution when interpreting its data, particularly when looking at trends across time, or differences across regions.
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*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*