No. 1 killer-Cancer is catching up to heart disease

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Cancer Considered as No 1 Killer


Though several Americans tend to die from heart disease, cancer has been considered as the No.1 killer. More people have died from cancer in 22 states during 2014 when compared to heart disease according to the new data from the National Vital Statistics System.

 This seems to be a considerable rise from 2002, when two states only – Alaska and Minnesota had recorded more cancer deaths than heart disease deaths.

This is be the cause of obesity that is said to be risk factor for heart disease as well as cancer according to Dr Paolo Boffetta, professor of environmental medicine and public health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who does not seem to be involved in the research.

Obesity is said to be more likely to cause heart deaths than deaths caused by cancer. Dr Boffetta had informed that cancer deaths gaining on deaths related to heart disease could be explained by the fact that `treatment for cancer tends to be more complex and they are unable to treat cancer as effectively as cardiovascular disease.

Boffetta further added that it is like two trucks travelling down the street where one tend to run slightly faster than the other. Similar trends seem to take place in Northern Europe, where cardiovascular disease deaths have gone down and cancer deaths have also declined though much slower’.

Asian-Americans & Hispanics Have Lower Cardiovascular Mortality


From the two groups of Americans, cancer tends to lead to more death than the heart disease. In Asians or Pacific Islanders, the leading cause of death in 2000 was cancer and within this population cancer deaths had increased by 79.6% between 2000 and 2014 and heart disease deaths had increased by 45.5%.

 Cancer had replaced heart disease in 2009 as the leading cause of death for Hispanics. The number of cancer deaths had increased by 72.2% within this group, from 2000 to 2014 in comparison to 31.8% increase in the number of heart disease deaths.

Boffetta mentioned that `Asian-Americans and Hispanics traditionally tend to have lower cardiovascular mortality. Bob Anderson, co-author of the study from the Mortality Statistic Branch Division of Vital Statistics at the National Centre for Health Statistics had stated that `heart disease has been the leading cause of death since 1910 except for one year, 1918’. Spanish flu had taken the nation and the world by storm in 1918.

Death Certificates Written Before Autopsy


Infectious diseases inclusive of flu had been the probable major cause of death before 1910 when `epidemiological transition had taken place, moving away from infectious diseases and towards chronic diseases. Anderson clarifies that it picked up in 1959 when there was widespread access to antibiotics.

The research of the leading causes of death has been gathered each year since 1900. The researchers had scrutinized death by state recording data on the race. ethnicity as well as the cause of the death. In order to create the present report, Anderson together with his co-author had accumulated data from death certificates.

As per Halaharvi, this is said to be a limitation of the research – death certificates are written before an autopsy, when the most accurate information is collected. She adds that `you are writing a death certificate before all the information is out and that an autopsy is not requested for everyone.

Someone with cancer could suffer from other medical issue including heart disease and could have died from one or another, though it is difficult to make the distinction without an autopsy or further tests. She further adds that it is difficult to know and so the death certificate is `more or less a guess’.

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