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US Has World’s 7th Highest Cancer Rate

AICR Experts Highlight Role of Diet, Weight, Physical Activity on Cancer Incidence

WASHINGTON, DC The US has the 7th highest cancer rate in the world, according to rankings compiled by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) from World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

Approximately 300 out of every 100,000 Americans develop cancer every year. In Denmark, which experiences the world’s highest cancer rate, 326 out of every 100,000 people get cancer every year. The rankings are posted on the AICR website.

The global figures, which are age-standardized, show that the US ranks 7th for overall cancers. When it comes to cancers in men, the US ranks 10th in the world. For cancers in women, the US ranks 8th, alongside Denmark.

Overall, the rankings show that high-income countries have significantly higher cancer rates than lower-income ones.

One reason is that high-income countries are better at diagnosing and recording new cases of cancer. But AICR experts pointed to evidence that lifestyle plays a significant role.

“We know that people in high-income countries are more likely to be overweight, to drink more alcohol and to be inactive, “ said AICR Nutritionist Alice Bender, MS, RD.

“There is strong, consistent scientific evidence that those factors increase risk of several common cancers these rankings bear that out,” she continued.

“The good news is that the high incidence rates in the US and other high-income countries are not inevitable; lifestyle changes can make a real difference to people’s risk. In fact, scientists estimate that about a third of the most common cancers in the US and other high-income countries could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, being more physically active and eating more healthfully.

“Of course, not smoking will have an important effect beyond that, as will avoiding sunburn. So when you put all these factors together, it’s clear that many cases are being diagnosed every year that could have been prevented,” she said.

“This is why we need to raise awareness about what people can do to reduce their cancer risk. As a society, we need to make the kind of changes that make it easier for people to make these healthy choices.”

“The US doesn’t want to be near the top of this chart,” she said. “And with a little effort, we don’t have to be.”

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Notes to editors:

The statistics come from GLOBOCAN, a project by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France. This project provides contemporary estimates of national incidence and mortality from major type of cancers for all countries of the world. It is available online at IARC is part of the World Health Organization.

The rates per 100,000 people have been age-adjusted. This means that for each country they look at what the rate would be if that country had the same age profile as the world population. This is important because cancer is more common in older people.

The 10 countries with the highest overall cancer rates are:

1. Denmark 326.1 per 100,000
2. Ireland 317 per 100,000
3. Australia 314.1 per 100,000
4. New Zealand 309.2 per 100,000
5. Belgium 306.8 per 100,000
6. France 300.4 per 100,000
7. US 300.2 per 100,000
8. Norway 299.1 per 100,000
9. Canada 296.6 per 100,000
10. Czech Republic 295 per 100,000


World Cancer Day will be held on February 4; this year the focus will be on prevention.


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association that operates as the umbrella organization for the network. The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (; Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (; World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (; and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (

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