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Dr. Tsubokura's Radiation Lecture Vol.96

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura

Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D., Yuki Senoo

191. With the prolongation of life expectancy, cancer becomes a major public health issue

It has been argued that high-dose radiation exposure can lead to increased numbers of cancer patients. In order to comprehend this issue more thoroughly, I would like to take a quick look at the history of cancer.

The earliest record of cancer was described in an ancient Egyptian text. However, cancer was not a major public health issue for a long period of history, as the life expectancy of people used to be around 30 to 40 years. Instead, deaths caused by natural disasters, famines, malnutrition, infectious diseases, tribal struggles and wars/conflicts, accidents, and many other causes were more of a problem during this period.

In Japan, the average life expectancy in the period immediately after World War II was only about 50 years for both men and women. As you may already know, though, due to economic expansion and technological advancements, Japan has achieved food security and a diminished rate of infectious disease–associated deaths across the country. As a result, life expectancy in Japan has increased to over 80 years for both men and women.