Belfast Telegraph

Cancer cases could increase by 72%

New cases of cancer in Ireland could rocket 72% 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 was compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and issued to publicise World Cancer Day on Saturday.

It showed Cyprus ranked a distant second with a 55% rise, followed by Luxembourg with 53%. The UK, where cases of the illness are expected to rise by 30%, ranks 16th on the list.

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

WCRF spokeswoman Dr Rachel 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%, followed by Latvia at 8.8%.

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