More South Africans in their twenties and thirties‚ are being suffering from — or dying from — cancer‚ often because of late diagnosis.

Financial services group Liberty told a media briefing on Tuesday that cancer was the main cause of claims across all age groups in SA in 2016.

It said 15.2% of claims — mainly for life and loss of income — came from young people‚ while 24.4% of claims emanated from young parents — in their twenties and thirties.

Liberty paid out R4.3bn in claims in 2016 — 13% more than in 2015.

Henk Meintjies‚ head of risk product development at Liberty‚ said: "This amounts to R17m every working day. These statistics reveal concerning trends in health and lifestyle risks, with cancer and cardiac and cardiovascular conditions being the main causes.

"The cancer statistics are relevant to the insured population‚ which reveals a high incidence of breast cancer for females. It is the number one claim for women‚ while prostate cancer is the top claim among men.

"The South African statistics of breast and prostate cancer mirror our own claims‚" Meintjies said.

Dr Philippa Peil‚ Liberty’s chief medical officer‚ said poor diets‚ physical inactivity‚ stress and smoking were fuelling cancer in SA.

"Given the increasing rate of cancer claims‚ it is important for one to take serious care of one’s body and to identify any serious illnesses as early as possible. Young people believe they are immune to cancer; they are leaving diagnosis when its too late‚" Peils said.

Claims related to retrenchment were highest among young people, at 11.7%. Meintjies attributed this to the "last-in-first-out" policy employed by many companies.

Strokes or central nervous system disorders also contributed significantly to total claims paid.

"The biggest cause of claims in KwaZulu-Natal was related to cardiac and cardiovascular events. This is in contrast to the rest of the country, where cancer-related claims were more prevalent in the majority of the provinces‚" Meintjies said.

Peil attributed this high incidence in KwaZulu-Natal to the Indian population’s having the highest death rate from diabetes.

"Hypertension and raised cholesterol, which is also prevalent among Indians‚ are high risk factors for cardiovascular events‚" she said.

TMG Digital

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