Factors That May Increase Vulnerability to Cancer and Longevity in Modern Human Populations

  • Svetlana V. UkraintsevaEmail author
  • Konstantin G. Arbeev
  • Igor Akushevich
  • Alexander M. Kulminski
  • Eric Stallard
  • Anatoliy I. Yashin
Part of the The Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis book series (PSDE, volume 40)


Cancer incidence rates for all disease sites combined and life expectancy have increased over time in many countries around the world. These increases were concurrent with economic progress and the spread of the Western lifestyle. Overall cancer risk and longevity are currently higher in more than in less developed regions of the world. What caused this global increase in cancer risk, beyond known carcinogenic exposures? Could life in affluent societies make people more susceptible to cancer? And could the increases in cancer risk and longevity be favored by the same factors linked to economic prosperity and the related lifestyle? In this chapter, we address these important questions. We discuss the global epidemiological evidence and results of human and animal studies to show that the higher overall cancer risk in the more developed world might be a result of a higher proportion of individuals more susceptible to cancer, rather than merely the result of a higher carcinogenic burden in respective populations. This proportion could increase over time under the influence of several factors linked to economic development and the Western lifestyle, including improved medical and living conditions that allow for survival of people with less efficient immune systems and some novel exposures that are not carcinogenic themselves but may increase one’s vulnerability to established carcinogens. Some factors associated with the Western lifestyle (e.g., food enriched with growth factors and delayed childbirth) may favor both longevity and vulnerability to cancer. This suggests that trade-offs between cancer and aging may potentially contribute to concurrent increases in longevity and cancer risks in modern human populations.


Cancer Risk Stomach Cancer Economic Prosperity Economic Progress Cancer Incidence Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research reported in this chapter was partly supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers R01AG046860 and P01AG043352. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Svetlana V. Ukraintseva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Konstantin G. Arbeev
    • 1
  • Igor Akushevich
    • 1
  • Alexander M. Kulminski
    • 1
  • Eric Stallard
    • 1
  • Anatoliy I. Yashin
    • 1
  1. 1.Biodemography of Aging Research Unit, Center for Population Health and AgingDuke Population Research Institute & Social Science Research Institute at Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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