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Infographic Depicting How Bad Habits Increase The Cost Of Cancer Based On Research That GE Healthcare Commissioned Gfk Bridgehead To Conduct In May 2013. (Graphic: Business Wire)

GE Healthcare today released secondary research findings indicating that bad habits and lifestyle choices are contributing approximately $33.9 billion annually to the costs related to cancer. Furthermore, the same research revealed that by reducing bad habits, global healthcare systems could potentially save $25 billion each year.

The research conducted by GfK Bridgehead on behalf of GE Healthcare in May and June 2013 focused on four key bad habits; smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and physical inactivity 1 and their relationship to three types of cancer – breast, lung and colon. The study calculated the cancer costs attributable to bad habits in ten developed and developing markets 2.

“The cumulative global cost of bad habits revealed in this research is staggering. I am encouraged by the potential savings that could be achieved by all of us just making a few small lifestyle changes and committing to a personal monitoring schedule,” said Jeff DeMarrais, Chief Communications Officer, GE Healthcare. “This data reinforces why our annual #GetFit campaign is so important in driving education and awareness of the link between healthy choices, early diagnosis and the possible risk of cancer.”

The research also breaks down the $33.9 billion annual global cost across ten markets by market and includes the current annual cost of treating cancer and the calculated potential annual savings.

The United States with $18.41 billion or 54% of the total current annual global cost of cancer is followed by China at $8.57 billion (25.3%) and France, Germany and Turkey at around $1.5 billion (4.4%). Developing markets such as Brazil with $378 million (1.1%) and Saudi Arabia $107 million (0.3%) currently have significantly lower annual costs of cancer at this point (see table 2).

While it has been long established that tobacco use is linked to the development of lung cancer, the data revealed that other bad habits, such as inactivity and poor nutrition, can also impact the risk of cancer. For example, inactivity and poor nutrition are often associated with weight gain, but this research also demonstrated that men who are inactive have an increased risk of developing colon cancer (relative risk score= 1.61, which means 61% more likely to develop colon cancer than someone who is active). As a result, inactivity can be attributable for $160 million dollars of the cost to treat colon cancer globally.

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