Intended for healthcare professionals


Cancer and the limits of longevity

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 21 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2920
  1. Marie Louise Tørring, associate professor
  1. Department of Anthropology, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Højbjerg, Denmark
  1. mlt{at}

Global inequality in longevity gains reflects inequities in cancer control

We need scientific reasoning to pave the way for a shared understanding of global health data and the world it represents. For some time now online data visualisation tools have made it easy for lay people to navigate and explore the treasures of public data. Today, we can sit comfortably at home and discover a world in motion, with animated statistics—and actually see longevity increasing all over the world. But online global statistics do not automatically prompt important discussions about the transitions we see, nor necessarily help us gain a collective understanding of why they are happening.

This is why epidemiological transition studies, such as the one by Cao and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.j2765), are important.1 Against a backdrop of noticeable worldwide reductions in mortality from infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease (CVD), the authors set out to understand changes in life expectancy over the past three decades, with a specific focus on …

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