Skip to main content
Press Release

GE Healthcare Research Determines Bad Habits Add US$33.9 Billion to Annual Global Cost of Cancer

July 15, 2013

Reducing bad habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and physical inactivity could potentially save US$25 billion each year globally

Dubai, UAE; July 16, 2013: GE Healthcare released secondary research findings indicating that bad habits and lifestyle choices are contributing approximately US$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 US$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 inactivity1 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 markets2.

"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 Maher Abouzeid, GE Healthcare's President & Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East and Pakistan. "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 US$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 US$18.41 billion or 54% of the total current annual global cost of cancer is followed by China at US$8.57 billion (25.3%) and France, Germany and Turkey at around US$1.5 billion (4.4%). Developing markets such as Brazil with US$378 million (1.1%) and Saudi Arabia US$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 US$160 million dollars of the cost to treat colon cancer globally.

Up to half of all cancer-related deaths can be prevented by making healthy choices, like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating properly, being physically active and undertaking recommended screening tests. However, this research and World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that bad habits continue to be prevalent in all markets (see table 3).

In seven of ten markets, over 25% of those populations are still regular smokers. Smoking is most prevalent in France and Turkey where 31% of adults over the age of 15 are smokers.

French females and Turkish males were ranked highest groups for smokers at 31% and 47% respectively.

In terms of physical inactivity Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom ranked bottom. 68.8% of Saudi nationals and 63.3% of British nationals over the age of 18 lead sedentary lifestyles, compared to only 15.6% of Indians and 28% of Germans.

A copy of the research findings and a data visualization can be downloaded at this link and was conducted as part of GE Healthcare's award-winning #GetFit public awareness cancer prevention campaign.

Kelly Home
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller
[email protected]
+971 4 4507 600

Nivine William
ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller
[email protected]
+971 4 4507 600

Caroline Wehbeh
GE Communications Leader, North Africa
[email protected]
+971 4 429 6318

business unit