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Biblical Methuselah lived almost 1000 years, but current longevity is only in the range of 80–85 years. However, compared to the corresponding figures 100 years ago, people now live much longer and experience a better quality of life. But now, a study from the UK tells us that cancer is becoming a major component among the list of diseases we should expect during our lifetime [1]. In this study, the probability of being diagnosed with cancer was estimated for individuals born in a given year, by assessing future risks as the cohort ages. Lifetime risk of cancer was performed separately for men and women born in each year from 1930 to 1960. The investigators projected rates of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) and of all cancer deaths forwards using a flexible age-period-cohort model and backwards using age-specific extrapolation. The results showed that the lifetime risk of cancer increased from 38.5% for men born in 1930 to 53.5% for men born in 1960. For women, it increased from 36.7 to 47.5%.The lifetime risk of cancer for people born since 1960 is more than 50%. Over half of the people who are currently adults under the age of 65 years will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Frightening, isn’t it?


  • Amos Pines
    Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel


  1. Ahmad AS, Ormiston-Smith N, Sasieni PD. Trends in the lifetime risk of developing cancer in Great Britain: comparison of risk for those born from 1930 to 1960. Br J Cancer 2015 Feb 3. Epub ahead of print
  2. Mistry M, Parkin DM, Ahmad AS, Sasieni P. Cancer incidence in the United Kingdom: projections to the year 2030. Br J Cancer 2011;105:1795803
  3. Weir HK, Thompson TD, Soman A, Møller B, Leadbetter S. The past, present, and future of cancer incidence in the United States: 1975 through 2020. Cancer 2015 Feb 3. Epub ahead of print
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