The United States has the seventh highest cancer rate in the world, according to new data compiled by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
Of the 50 nations with the highest overall cancer rates in the world, Denmark takes first place and South Africa comes in at number 50. Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and France fill the slots in between Denmark and the United States.
Countries With the Highest Overall Cancer Rates (per 100,000 Population)
Overall, the estimates show that high-income countries have significantly higher cancer rates than lower-income ones.
The differences in cancer rates among the top 10 nations are relatively small. "But when we look at the top 20 or 25 countries and compare those rates to the lower-income countries, that's where you really see the differences," said Alice Bender, MS, RD, a nutrition communications manager at the AICR.
"The general idea is that many of these cancers can be prevented by changes in lifestyle and diet," she said in an interview with Medscape Medical News. "We have very good evidence that a number of our most common cancers can be prevented by being at a healthy weight and being physically active."
"We can look at these higher rates as being due to some of our lifestyle issues," she added.
For example, people in high-income countries are more likely to be overweight, consume more alcohol, and be inactive, Ms. Bender pointed out. "In Denmark, which is at the top of the list, both alcohol and tobacco use are quite high."
Some countries are also better at diagnosing and recording cancer cases; that might play into some of the more the subtle differences between the countries on the list. But she noted that it is hard to say "what exactly is contributing to the subtle differences in ranking."
When broken down by sex, the United States comes in at number 10 for men and number 8 women. The 5 most common cancers in the United States, for both sexes, are those of the lung, prostate, breast, colorectum, and bladder.