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Smoking, poor air quality and the presence of toxic products influence the health of our lungs. Photo: Irina Kostenich
Smoking, poor air quality and the presence of toxic products influence the health of our lungs. Photo: Irina Kostenich

Lung cancer: a problem for Latin America

A new report finds that a total of 60,000 people die due to lung cancer every year in 12 Latin American countries.

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Becerra & Cabello duo

May 17th, 2022

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The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has published a new report on lung cancer in 12 countries in Latin America. This study, conducted by Roche, has brought to light new data related to the presence of this disease and the impact it has on the population.

The EIU calculates that in the countries studied (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, and Bolivia), a total of 60,000 people die every year due to lung cancer. This figure accounts for 12 percent of cancer-related deaths annually.

These numbers directly affect the coffers of Latin American countries, since the diagnosis, treatment and care of the disease comes with a high expense. Brazil alone accounts for $823 million dollars per year of public spending associated with this disease.

Despite the large number of individuals affected by lung cancer and the high economic cost it creates, it is a disease that is not even contemplated in some public health coverage in countries such as Mexico and Chile.

The relationship with tobacco

Despite popular belief, smoking is just one of the reasons why an individual can develop lung cancer. In fact, Martin Koehring, leader of the Intelligence Unit at The Economist, says that 36 percent of lung cancer cases in Latin America are not linked to tobacco. Other aspects such as poor air quality and the presence of toxic gases in the environment could be having an important influence on the health of Latin Americans.

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