Half of Canadians will get cancer, but why?

Experts fear the increase could be duplicated in the U.S.

Rebecca Falkenberry is all about hitting the pavement at downtown St. Pete's waterfront.

"To me, this is the great outdoors," she says.

She's been active her whole life.

"I did a lot of hiking, Biking, kayaking, birdwatching, wildlife viewing. I probably wore out my hip because i had to have a hip replacement."

But being older than 65 she knows "as you get older, that's when your little cells go crazy and you might have cancer."

Even so, she was surprised by the findings from the Canadian Cancer Society that show half of all Canadians will get cancer in their lifetime, and a quarter of Canadians will die from cancer.

And lots from thse cases will be really treatable ones like prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancer.

We  took the report to Moffitt Cancer Center doctor Nagi Kumar, and she was as dismayed as Falkenberry.

"It's just shocking all the way. I mean you ask any epidemiologist or anyone working in any of these buildings around us and they'll tell you. That's a shocking number. I mean, nowhere in the world is it one out of two.
... Let me put it that way. Not even in the United States of America."

She doesn't think that an aging population accounts solely for the numbers.

"No, no, no, I think the aging part was such a bad excuse the whole world is aging."

Kumar thinks there's something more. Something that you can start to prevent right this second.

She says 70 to 90 percent of cancers are caused by environmental factors like smoking, sun exposure, and what you put in your body.

Here's the good news - mortality rates - the number of people dying from cancer - have gone down steadily since 1988. They're at an all-time low.

That means the paradigm of cancer is shifting.

Dr. Jason Fleming, chairman of the Department of  Gastrointestinal Oncology, says, "Diagnosis is not equal to death sentence. but the diagnosis is equal to intervention and let's move on with your life. Live to be 85, 90, 100."

The silver lining from this startling report, you never want cancer, but now, chances are way better you can live with it.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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