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Cancer costs world economy $1 trillion a year

Cancer, projected to become the leading cause of death worldwide this year, has emerged as the costliest disease, costing the global economy nearly a trillion dollars a year, according to a report.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2010 00:38 IST

Cancer, projected to become the leading cause of death worldwide this year, has emerged as the costliest disease, costing the global economy nearly a trillion dollars a year, according to a report.

Cancer has the most devastating economic impact of any cause of death in the world, the American Cancer Society said in a study on the economic cost of all causes of death globally.

The economic toll from cancer, estimated to be $ 895 billion , is nearly 20 per cent higher than heart disease, the second leading cause of economic loss ($ 753 billion).

"The lost years of life and productivity caused by cancer represent the single largest drain on national economies, compared to other causes of death, including HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases," the study said.

The World Health Organisation projects that cancer will become the world's leading cause of death this year, followed by heart disease and stroke.

"The burden of cancer will grow enormously in low and middle income countries, with demands on health care systems and economic costs that are more than these developing economies can bear," chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society John Seffrin said.

A separate study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health says cancer, once considered to be a problem of developed world, is now a leading cause of death and disability in poorer countries. Almost two-thirds of the 7.6 million cancer deaths in the world occur in low and middle-income countries. "The international community must now discard the notion that cancer is a 'disease of the rich' and instead approach it as a global health priority," the paper, authored by Harvard School of Public Health dean Julio Frenk and 19 other cancer experts, said.