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UK near top of breast cancer table

Only 10 countries have proportionally more women with breast cancer than the UK, data from the World Health Organisation has shown.

Fuelled by over-consumption of alcohol and high levels of obesity, the high rate of breast cancer in the UK places it at number 11 on a list of 50.

The most recent estimates by WHO relate to 2008.

In terms of overall cancer levels for both males and females, the UK comes 22nd, although for overall female cancer rates it takes position 12 in the list.

For male cancer the UK is number 33 out of 50 but WHO said rates of cancer are nonetheless higher in men than in women.

In the UK an average 260.5 women per 100,000 end up with breast cancer, more than in France (254.9), Italy (251.6), Germany (245.7), Sweden (241.2), Switzerland (236) and Spain (187). The highest rates are in Denmark (325.3), New Zealand (287.1) and Ireland (285.1).

Overall, for both men and women, Denmark is the cancer capital of the world (326.1). The UK is at number 22 on 266.9 per 100,000.

Experts believe some of the explanation for Danish data could be down to better diagnosis but noted high rates of smoking among Danish women. The country also has high levels of alcohol consumption.

All the rates are age-standardised, which allows a true comparison between countries.

The World Cancer Research Fund compiled the league tables from the WHO data. It said high-income countries generally have much higher cancer rates than those of lower income ones.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

World Cancer Research Fund