According to estimates from Cancer Research UK, up to two thirds of people born today may develop cancer. The organization also suggests that more than half of people born since 1960 may get the disease sometime in their lifetime, replacing previous estimates that stated more than a third of people can expect to get the disease.
Cancer Research UK arrived at the forecasts after carrying out a study published in the British Journal of Cancer with the Queen Mary University of London. According to results, men born after 1960 are 53.5 percent likelier to develop cancer during their lifetime, an increase from the 38.5 percent level of risk that those born 30 years prior had. Women born after 1960 also shared higher risks, going from 36.7 percent to 47.5 percent. Overall though, those born after 1960 had 50.5 percent risk of being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
Researchers explained that a lot of the increase in risk is due to a rise in life expectancy. With cancer more prevalent in old age, living longer also meant then that there was a higher chance that cancer was just right around the corner.
An increase in life expectancy is actually a good thing but if lifestyle habits don't improve, living long starts to become a bad thing. In fact, if people don't change their lifestyles, it can be expected that majority of children will be developing cancer.
Peter Sasieni, one of the study's authors, explained that while cancer is essentially a condition associated with old age, with over 60 percent of cases involving people over 65 years old, lifestyle habits play a big part in determining who will be diagnosed with the disease.
Survival rates have doubled within the last four decades due to improved treatment options and better detection methods but people should strive for prevention as much as they can. Sasieni added that a lot of cancers could be avoided and all it takes is a change in lifestyle habits.
Harpal Kumar, chief executive for Cancer Research UK, believes the single biggest thing that could determine a patient's fate is whether or not the cancer was caught early enough.
"Preventing more cancers and diagnosing the disease as early as possible, when treatment is more likely to be effective, could have a significant impact on survival in the UK," added Emma King, head and neck surgeon for Cancer Research UK.