Half of all people born after 1960 will get cancer at some stage, according to a new study.
Research by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) published in the British Journal of Cancer, forecasts that 1 in 2 people will develop the disease at some point in their lives. That's a major jump from its previous estimate, of 1 in 3.
Obviously, that's a frightening statistic, because cancer is a frightening disease. CRUK is keen to point out that this isn't a sudden leap in risk – it's down to a new and, it says, more accurate method of calculation. Our risk of cancer has been increasing steadily for decades.
Paradoxically, though, it's because we're healthier.
In short, the reason people are dying of cancer is that they're not dying of anything else first.
That isn't the whole story, but it's a large part of it.
CRUK estimates that two-thirds of the increased cancer risk is due to our improved life expectancy. The other factors are to do with our lifestyle. We can't stop ourselves getting older – and in fact we should be grateful that we get to do so – but, says CRUK in a blog, "we can stack the odds of avoiding cancer in our favour. Things that happen throughout our lives can speed up – or slow down – the rate at which errors occur in our genes. These include things we can control, and some we can't."