Lead author Dr. Freddie Bray of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, said in medium- and high-Human Development Index settings, the observed declines in cervix and stomach cancer linked to infections appear to be offset by increasing rates of female breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, linked to lifestyle issues.
This may be attributed to a "Westernization" effect in countries in rapid economic transition.
Almost 40 percent of cancers worldwide occur in countries with the highest standard of living, even though those countries have only 15 percent of the world's population. As standards of living increase, so does the risk of cancer, the report said.
"This study should serve as a catalyst for further work on human inequality and cancer from a global perspective, in order to better determine how and why macroeconomic determinants influence cancer incidence, mortality and survival," Bray said in a statement. "It is imperative that public health clinicians and cancer control specialists are alerted to the increasing magnitude of cancer incidence and mortality worldwide; this analysis serves as an important reference point in highlighting the need for global action to reduce the increasing burden of cancer."
The findings were published in The Lancet Oncology.