Cancer Epidemic?

We’ve been learning about epidemics this week, focusing on the way diseases cause epidemics through networks. We also learned ways in which these epidemics can be prevented. However, an article I found states that prosperity is what is causing a particular cancer epidemic in Latin America: “Latin America Threatened by Mounting Cancer Epidemic: Study” (source: http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/nm/latin-america-threatened-by-mounting-cancer-epidemic-study).

The article states:

A multinational team of researchers found the current state of cancer care and prevention in Latin America incompatible with the socioeconomic changes taking place in the region, where an increasingly urban populace faces mounting lifestyle-related cancer risks.

 Although cancer is not considered contagious, there are certain confirmed risk factors that will increase one’s chance of being diagnosed with cancer. In this case, prosperity is causing this region to imbibe in many cancer causing behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, eating until obese, and leading sedentary lives. Although this is extremely similar to the behaviors of Americans (who lead the world in obesity), and Latin Americans are less likely to contract cancer, they are twice as likely to die from it. This is due to their lack of preventative measures, lack of health care, and the patients seeking treatment too late.

The study recommended Latin American nations make major changes to their healthcare policies, such as dedicating more funds to public health, widening healthcare access so cancer patients can be treated earlier and developing better national cancer plans. It also envisions shifting funds away from costly end-stage cancer treatment toward palliative care.

 These are some of the ways that may help curb this ‘epidemic’, although this epidemic does not travel the way most diseases and epidemics do. The study calls for immediate change, otherwise it will be almost too expensive and deadly to deal with within a short span of just 10 to 15 years.

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