Nov. 23, 2020

UCalgary cancer studies identify cause for concern in global trends

Dr. Miranda Fidler-Benaoudia, PhD, has published two cancer studies uncovering international trends

Breast cancer rates among women globally are on the rise, but new research is uncovering trends related to age and where you live that could help target prevention measures to improve the situation.

A study published this year in The Lancet Global Health includes data on women from 41 countries and found that in higher-income nations, including Canada, rates of breast cancer in premenopausal women are increasing, while postmenopausal breast cancer is increasing more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr. Miranda Fidler-Benaoudia, PhD, is the principal investigator on this research.

Dr. Miranda Fidler-Benaoudia, PhD

Dr. Miranda Fidler-Benaoudia, PhD

Carmen Coelho

Postmenopausal breast cancer is significantly increasing in 24 populations, most notably in countries undergoing transitions from lower- to higher-income status. This could be a result of these countries adopting a more Western lifestyle that includes unhealthy behaviours that increase breast cancer risk, such as lower levels of physical activity and increased alcohol consumption. Adopting early screening procedures, which are common in higher-income countries, could play a part as well, by identifying more cases early on.  

In another cancer study led by Dr. Fidler-Benaoudia, new research found from 1998 to 2012, cancer in adolescents and young adults (15 to 39-year-olds) was significantly increasing in 23 of the 41 countries investigated. A sharp increase was noted for cancers related to obesity, especially in the United States and United Kingdom, as well as Canada though to a lesser extent than the U.S. and UK.

That study was published in April in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Although further studies are needed, the results suggest that public health campaigns seeking to prevent excess body weight in adolescents and young adults could be beneficial.

Dr. Miranda Fidler-Benaoudia, PhD, is an epidemiologist at Cancer Care Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and adjunct assistant professor in the departments of Oncology and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. She is a member of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.