Report Finds Continuing Declines in Cancer Death Rates

Death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decline in the United States between 2004 and 2008, ac­cording to the Ann­ual Re­port to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975 to 2008. The overall rate of new cancer diagnoses (or incidence) among men had de­creased by an average of 0.6% per year between 2004 and 2008. Overall cancer incidence rates among wo­men de­clined 0.5% per year from 1998 to 2006 with rates leveling off from 2006 to 2008. The Report was coauth­ored by re­searchers from the Cen­ters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the North American Asso­cia­tion of Central Cancer Reg­istries, the National Cancer In­sti­tute, and the American Can­cer Society.

The Report ap­peared in print in the May 2012 issue of the journal CANCER. The special feature section highlights the effects of excess weight and lack of physical activity on cancer risk. Eso­phageal adenocarcinoma, cancers of the colon and rectum, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, endometrial can­cer, and breast cancer among postmenopausal wo­men are as­sociated with being overweight or obese. Several of these cancers also are associated with not be­ing sufficiently physically active. For more than 30 years, excess weight, insufficient physical activity, and an unhealthy diet have been second only to tobacco as preventable causes of disease and death in the United States. How­ever, since the 1960s, tobacco use has de­clined by a third while obesity rates have doubled, significantly impacting the relative contributions of these factors to the disease burden. Excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity have been linked to in­creased risk of car­dio­vas­cular disease, hy­pertension, diabetes, and ar­thritis, as well as many cancers.

The Report was first is­sued in 1998. In ad­dition to drops in overall can­cer mortality and incidence, this year’s report also documents the second consecutive year of de­creasing lung cancer mortality rates among wo­men. Lung cancer death rates in men have been de­creasing since the early 1990s. The Report notes that continued progress against cancer in the United States will re­quire individual and community efforts to promote healthy weight and sufficient physical activity among youth and adults.

(Source: CDC, March 28, 2012)