I have some good news…and some bad news.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently published their Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. And the good news is, death rates from the most common cancers in the U.S. — including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer — have dropped across the board.
The bad news? There was one glaring exception to this trend: liver cancer.
Now, you know I don’t like to burden you with statistics too often. But the contents of this report are worth reviewing in detail. Because they offer yet another example of how our nation’s toxic lifestyle is molding our health — right down to the types of cancer we’re getting.
So here’s what’s been happening for the last decade…
Overall cancer death rates among all genders and ethnicities have dropped by 1.5 percent every year since 2003. Men averaged a drop of 1.8 percent per year. Women averaged a drop of 1.4 percent per year. And kids and teens up to age 19 have seen cancer death rates drop by an average of 2 percent per year.
Unfortunately, however, liver cancer death rates did just the opposite. According to this recent report, they’ve jumped by 2.8 percent annually in men. And by 2.2 percent per year in women. All during the same time period.
What’s behind this new trend? Well, let’s take a minute to analyze it.
No matter what the powers-that-be want you to believe about how medical advances have changed this particular landscape, I think it’s clear that lifestyle always had a big hand in shifting cancer rates.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why lung cancer cases have dropped off. We essentially outlawed smoking, and the rates continue to tumble. And breast cancer? Where late detection and excessive estrogen exposure once took the lives of unwitting women, we now have awareness programs — including routine screening and lifestyle coaching.
As for prostate cancer, let’s face it — it was never a particularly deadly cancer to begin with. So advances in detection (and the aggressive treatment that, for better or worse, comes with it) are obviously going to save lives among the small number of men facing lethal forms of the disease.
But any way you slice it, the trends always follow a pretty straight path: We learn more about what causes the disease. Word gets out. Policies change. And years down the road, everyone lives a little longer for it.
Following this same logic, you would think liver cancer rates would be dropping. There have been plenty of public health campaigns against heavy drinking — what used to be the number one cause of liver damage in the U.S.
So what gives? Well, that depends on who you talk to.
According to these researchers, the culprit isn’t alcoholism, but hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. New cases spiked between the ‘60s and the ‘80s, before the virus was even discovered and people knew how to prevent it. And yes, it’s a major risk factor for liver cancer.
But is that what’s really behind this new deadly trend? To support this assertion, the report cites the fact that baby boomers have both higher liver cancer rates and higher HCV infection rates.
Of course, the report also notes that liver cancer is caused by cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. Alcoholism and chronic hepatitis are two potential causes. But do you know what else causes cirrhosis?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is brought on by obesity and type 2 diabetes. And it’s quickly shaping up to be a modern public health disaster… even affecting children at an alarming rate.
But sure. Let’s blame Hep C.
Maybe you can guess my take on this theory: It’s a bunch of lies and misdirection. Destroying your liver has gotten considerably easier over the last few decades. And while alcoholism and hepatitis C used to be this organ’s primary adversaries, that’s no longer the case.
Nowadays, we’ve got a lot more smoking guns to contend with. And until we start to address them, this epidemic-in-the-making is only going to get worse.
But I’m all out of time today… so stay tuned. Because tomorrow, I’m going to offer a better explanation for this growing threat — along with a few simple solutions to keep your own liver safe. Source: