INCA publishes study on obesity-related cancer spending

INCA publishes study on obesity-related cancer spending
INCA publishes study on obesity-related cancer spending
The National Cancer Institute (INCA) coordinated an unprecedented survey that reveals the high cost of treating cancers related to excess weight. Of the R $ 3.5 billion spent by the federal government in 2018 on cancer treatment, R $ 1.4 billion was used for cancers associated with being overweight.

The study, published in March, in the international scientific journal Plos One, considered the medical costs of the Brazilian Unified Health System (THEIR) and showed that 80% of all cancer expenses attributable to excess weight were for treatments of malignant breast, colorectal and endometrial tumors. Although the contribution of excess weight is relatively small for breast and colorectal cancers, when compared to endometrial cancer, the economic impact is high due to the high incidence of these cancers in the country.

In addition to these three neoplasms, obesity is also a risk factor for the development of other types of cancer, such as esophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, kidneys, ovary and prostate.

The causes of excess weight are multifactorial and result from the ongoing food transition process in the country. The preference for fresh food and the traditional preparation of meals has been replaced by the increased consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods. The predominance of physical inactivity is also a relevant factor.

For Ronaldo Corrêa, from the Technical Area of ​​Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer at INCA’s Prevention and Surveillance Coordination, the results of the research are clear.

“The increase in chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, has as a strong promoting agent exposure to behavioral risk factors, such as being overweight. There is an urgent debate on the best allocation of resources for health actions due to the expectation of an exponential increase in future spending, said Corrêa. ”

Recently released, data from the National Health Survey, from the Ministry of Health, portray the advance of overweight and obesity in the Brazilian population in recent years. The percentage of obese people, in adulthood in the country, more than doubled in 17 years, jumping from 12.2%, between 2002 and 2003, to 26.8%, in 2019. In the same period, the proportion of the adult population overweight went from 43.3% to 61.7%, which represents almost two thirds of Brazilians.

Among the younger population, the figures are equally worrying. One in five adolescents, aged between 15 and 17, was overweight and, about a third of people aged 18 to 24, are obese.

“These results can help public policy makers, such as the INCA, to prioritize cancer control actions, seeking an appropriate balance between what is spent on prevention, specifically on excess weight, and what is spent on treatment cancer, ”said Ana Cristina Pinho, director-general of the Institute.

The study also included the participation of researchers from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Uerj) and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).

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