I have looked at the statistics for cancer and it shows that cancer is 1.8 times higher in more developed countries compared with less developed countries - which to me is counter-intuitive (air pollution, more sun, nutrition, sanitation, etc.).

Why cancer is almost twice as likely in more developed compared with less developed countries?

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    Consider how often people visit doctors and therefore get diagnosed in developed vs. less developed countries. – Carey Gregory Jul 19 '16 at 19:16
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    Because many people frankly may not live long enough to get cancer, depending on the life expectancy in a given country. – Anna Zhilkova Jul 19 '16 at 22:14
  • Alongside a lower life-expectancy, consider the rate of diagnosis. Many under-developed countries simply cannot determine if cancer is the root cause of a illness. – John Jul 20 '16 at 8:51

Precisely because developed countries have better air quality, nutrition, sanitation, healthcare, etc. life expectancy is higher and cancer is more likely in these countries. This is because cancer is caused by mutations in DNA which accumulate over time. Since life expectancy in general is higher in developed countries, there is more time for mutations to accumulate and for cancer to develop in these people. Less developed countries have lower life expectancy, which means diseases and issues which developed countries have solved or are able to successfully deal with kill large enough portions of populations in undeveloped countries before mutations in DNA can accumulate in these people. For this reason, cancer is often referred to as the problem -- in large part -- of the developed world.

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    It would be interesting to see rates broken down by age groups. If your answer is the entire explanation, then pediatric cancer rates would be the same. My bet is they are not. I would expect pedi cancer rates in developed nations to be higher than in undeveloped nations due to lower detection and reporting rates in the undeveloped world. – Carey Gregory Jul 22 '16 at 18:22
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    jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(13)00242-4/abstract this study, by Yasmine White et. al., shows that 80-85% of all pediatric cancer cases are in the undeveloped world. – user8669 Jul 22 '16 at 19:01
  • Wow, surprising numbers. I don't understand why they would be so much higher. – Carey Gregory Jul 22 '16 at 19:28
  • I would not expect the incidence to be the same. Children born in developing countries are most likely at much higher risk for cancer because of environmental factors they may be exposed to in utero or by their parents when they are born. – user8669 Jul 22 '16 at 19:53
  • I wouldn't expect the same either, but I would expect that a much higher detection rate in developed nations would have a much larger effect. – Carey Gregory Jul 22 '16 at 20:43

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