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Cancer is World's Costliest Killer

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A new study says cancer is more devastating to the world economy than any other cause of death.

The report by the American Cancer Society and the U.S.-based Livestrong foundation says, in 2008, the disease's economic toll was nearly $900 billion - equivalent to about 1.5 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

The study measures economic impact in terms of the loss of labor productivity, or healthy working years, due to premature death and disability.

It says cancer costs national economies more in productivity than diseases that spread person-to-person, such as HIV/AIDS.

The groups behind the report say governments should commit more money to cancer treatment and prevention to help relieve the burden.

In addition to being the costliest killer, the World Health Organization predicts cancer will overtake heart disease this year as the world's leading cause of death.

Heart disease was found to have the second-highest economic impact of all death causes, after cancer. Researchers say that is because cancer affects people earlier in their lives, depriving them of more years of work productivity.

The report says lung and related cancers account for about one-fifth of cancer's overall economic burden.

An estimated 7.6 million people died of cancer in 2008, and more than 12 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

Livestrong was started by internationally-known cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

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