Why do cancers affect men more than women? – Corriere.it

from Vera Martinella

According to a new study, the reason why the rate of onset of cancer is higher among males may not be linked to behavioral differences but rather to the biological peculiarities of the two sexes.

The latest estimates collected by the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) and the Italian Cancer Registries Association (Airtum) for 2020 say that in Italy there are approximately 377 thousand new cancer diagnoses per year, 195 thousand in men and 182 thousand in women. The reason why the onset rate of cancer is higher among men compared to female counterparts may not be related to behavioral differences, but rather to biological peculiarities of the two sexes. This is what a study published in the journal assumes Cancer
and conducted by scientists from the National Cancer Institute. The team, led by Sarah S. Jackson, evaluated the differences in cancer risk for each of the 21 cancer sites between 171,274 males and 122,826 females, between the ages of 50 and 71.

The data of the new survey

As part of the study by the National Institutes of Health – American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health, the researchers collected information from 1995 to 2011. In the observation period, they occurred 17,951 new cancers in men and 8,742 cases in female counterparts. Although it has previously been speculated that the risk for men is higher due to behavioral differences, such as an increased tendency to consume alcohol and an unhealthy diet, scientists speculate that these factors are not sufficient to explain the divergences. The risk of developing cancers or malignancies was 1.3 to 10.8 times higher in men, except for thyroid and gallbladder cancers, which seemed more common in women. The probability of developing an oncological disease was higher for men even in the case of similar behavioral habits and exposure. These data, experts note, suggest that biological differences between genders could play a key role in cancer susceptibility. “The environmental and behavioral factors alone – Jackson argues – are not sufficient to explain the differences in cancer onset rates. This implies that there are intrinsic biological differences that can influence susceptibility to tumors ».

The Italian numbers

The most frequently diagnosed tumor, in 2020 in Italy, was breast cancer (54,976 new cases), followed by the colorectal (43,702), lung (40,882), prostate (36,074) and bladder (25,492). In particular, in women, the worrying growth of lung cancer continues (+ 3.4% per year), linked to the habit of cigarette smoke, the main cancer risk factor. On the other hand, the “case” of the colorectal imposes itself, in sharp decline in both sexes, thanks to the effectiveness of the screening programs. In our country, where survival is better than the European average, the number of deaths is decreasing and the share of those who overcome the disease is growing: 3.6 million compatriots are alive after cancer. In women, the 5-year survival reaches 63%, better than that of men (54%), largely due to the fact that in women the most frequent cancer is that of breastcharacterized by a better prognosis than other neoplasms.

There is no single cause

And if we must not forget that over a third of neoplasms can be prevented with correct lifestyles, being able to understand the reasons and triggering causes of the various types of cancer (and their greater or lesser severity) would be a fundamental step to prevent whenever possible. the disease and be able to successfully treat it. As far as we know today, there is almost never, except in some rare hereditary forms, a single cause that can explain the onset of a tumor. Several factors contribute to its development, some of which are not modifiable, such as genes inherited from their parents or agewhile on others it is possible to intervene to reduce the risk of getting the disease.

August 11, 2022 (change August 11, 2022 | 10:15)

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