Environment, cancer and inequalities—The urgent need for prevention

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The proportion of total deaths attributable to environmental factors is estimated to be 23% of global deaths and 22% of global disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) according to one review. These estimates encompass all environmental agents including infectious agents but excluding behavioural factors. The authors of the review also estimated that 16% (95% CI: 7–41%) of cancer deaths are attributable to environmental risk factors (and 36% [95% CI: 17–52%] for lung cancer). In this article, we focus on the reasons why epidemiology is often unable to account for the whole burden of environmental carcinogens.

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