Today’s Headlines: Breast Cancer Deaths On The Rise, The Link Between Worrying and Heart Disease, and Smoking Cigarettes Can Lead to Genetic Damage

In a report presented this week at the World Cancer Congress,  the American Cancer Society predicts a dramatic rise in cancer deaths among women over the next 15 years. By 2030, 5.5 million women worldwide are expected to die from cancer — a 60% increase from the 3.5 million who died in 2012. Experts believe that poorer countries will experience the most significant increases in cancer deaths. Compared to other types of cancer, breast cancer causes the most deaths among women. According to recent figures, women diagnosed with breast cancer in high-income countries have a 85% five-year survival rate; women in lower income countries have a five-year survival rate of 60% or less.  “It’s not shocking,” said Dr. Nestor Esnaola of Fox Chase Cancer Center Temple Health, “but gives a fairly sober summary of what’s happening at a global level.” Female cancer deaths cost countries around the world $286 billion each year. (CNN)

New research shows that those who constantly worry about falling ill have a significantly higher risk of heart disease. Over 12 years, researchers studied the health data from more than 7,000 people, paying specific attention to heart health. They published their results in the journal BMJ Open. “We found there was a surprisingly strong association between levels of health anxiety and the risk of ischemic heart disease,” said Line Iden Berge, the lead researcher. “In the long run we now know there could be some severe consequences in the body.” People with this type of health anxiety — estimated to be 5-10% of the population — have a 70% higher risk of coronary artery disease, according to the study. Still, it’s unclear whether such risk is the result of health anxiety alone, or the result of more general anxiety. (TIME)

A study published this week in the journal Science underscores the extraordinary damage cigarettes can inflict on the body. Smoking cigarettes can cause up to 150 harmful mutations in lung cells in a single year if you smoke a pack a day. Such harmful changes, which also affect the bladder, liver, and throat, occur at the genetic level. “Before now, we had a large body of epidemiological evidence linking smoking with cancer,” said Ludmil Alexandrov of Los Alamos National Laboratory, “but now we can actually observe and quantify the molecular changes in the DNA.” The new findings revealed by Alexandrov and his fellow researchers offer even more insight into the number of tobacco-related deaths each year, estimated to be about 6 million. The World Health Organization predicts that, over the next 10 years, 1 billion people worldwide could die from a tobacco-related condition. (Reuters)