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Jamaican teens at greatest risk of cancer - report

Published:Friday | November 8, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Jamaican adolescent tobacco smokers are at the greatest risk for cancer, according to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) report Cancer in the Americas Country Profiles 2013.

The report noted that teenage tobacco smokers in Jamaica were 28.7 per cent of the adolescent population, compared to 15.1 per cent of adult smokers, which put them at greater risk for cancer-related diseases.

Despite Jamaica's recent Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations, the report stated that there was a complete absence of bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, evident through the country's national television, radio and print media. It also said health warning labels of the dangers of tobacco were missing some appropriate characteristics.

Quoting figures from 2008, the report also noted that in cancer-related mortality rates in Jamaican men, prostate cancer accounted for the highest number of deaths with 20 per cent, followed by lung cancer (19 per cent). In women, breast cancer was the number one cause of cancer-related death (19 per cent), followed by cervix uteri (18 per cent). There were 1,492 cancer-related deaths in men and 1,659 in women in 2008.

With cancer being the second leading cause of death in the countries of the Americas, the report was seeking to disseminate data on the current state of cancer risk factors, cancer mortality, and cancer plans, policies and services. PAHO and WHO are of the view that there is limited information available on how each country in this region is responding to this public health problem.