Cancer rates down, youth awareness of risks up
Israel Cancer Association says many risk factors remain.
Haifa University tower in pink for breast cancer. Photo: Courtesy University of Haifa
Although cancer causes more deaths among Israelis than any other disease, the
latest findings show that cancer deaths here are relatively low compared to most
Mortality from malignancies has dropped among Jewish Israeli
men and women and among Arab Israeli women, but increased among Arab Israeli
men, largely because of their high smoking rate.
The Israel Cancer
Association reported these and other statistics on Wednesday. On February 4, the
ICA will mark World Cancer Day of the Union for International Cancer
The death rates from cancer, adjusted to age per 100,000
residents, has declined during the past two decades by 14 percent among Jewish
men and Arab women and 16% among Jewish women, but has increased 20% among Arab
In 2010, cancer was diagnosed in 24,762 Israelis. A total of 10,380
Israelis died of cancer that year. Among Jews, prostate and colorectal cancer
were the most common type, while among Arabs, it was lung, colorectal and
Among Jewish and Arab women, breast and colorectal
cancer were the most common malignancies. In 2010, 930 women died of breast
cancer – a decline among both Arab and Jewish women.
World Cancer Day
2013 will focus on dispelling damaging public myths and misconceptions about
cancer, by raising discussions especially through the media.
public opinion survey sponsored by the ICA showed that teenagers believe more
than adults that one can prevent many cases of cancer, that it is not inevitable
and that it is possible to cure some cases. There is also a significant increase
in public awareness that smoking is the leading cause of cancer and of the roles
of physical inactivity, poor diet and obesity as additional causes of
Lower death rates, said the ICA, are partly the result of its
ongoing information and educational efforts, which lead to screening and early
diagnosis, as well as improved treatment.
An epidemiological study
containing the data of more than two million Israeli teenagers has shown the
connection between overweight and obesity on the one hand and cancer. The
longterm study shows that excess weight in the teenage years can bring on
kidney, urinary, pancreatic, intestinal and other cancers in adulthood. The
research also found a growing trend of overweight and obesity in
A recent Mutagim Research Institute poll of 500 adults and 200
teens aged 15 to 17 showed that 11% of the adults and 3% of the youths smoke
more than 10 cigarettes a day.
In 2012, 56% of Israelis said their weight
is “normal,” compared to 49% in 2008. Selfreporting by individuals that they do
not do regular physical exercise declined from 41% in 2008 to 33%
The ICA decided as part of its World Cancer Day activities to
produce a special issue of the Hebrew youth magazine Rosh1 to increase awareness
of cancer prevention among adolescents.
In addition, together with the
Gitam-BBDO advertising firm, the association has prepared a media campaign to
warn pregnant women against smoking because of the harm to their health and that
of their fetuses.
Prof. Arnon Afek, head of the Health Ministry’s medical
administration, presented epidemiological research conducted in the IDF, a
number of hospitals and Tel Aviv University on overweight in youth as a future
risk of cancer. The study of two million people born between 1950 and 1993
showed that overweight increased by 140% among men and 180% among women.
Crossing weights with cancer records, the researchers found that the risk of
pancreatic cancer was twice as high in people who were overweight as teens.
Colorectal cancer was also more common in those who were heavy when they were
Other research conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research
Center in Seattle, Washington, found that deep frying (high heat) can increase
the risk of prostate cancer. A study in Milan showed that regular alcohol
consumption increases the risk of cancer of the colorectum, breast, larynx,
liver, esophagus, oral cavity and pharynx.