Monday, June 20, 2011

Cancer Death Rates Dropping

It is very difficult to isolate cause and effect from statistics themselves and we usually get a mountain of surmise.  This is no different.

On the other hand, the one huge effect running through this all has been the ‘baby boom’ effect which saw an entire generation make a generational leap in terms first of educational attainment.  This has led to a vastly larger segment of the population making what we can describe as healthy choices.  This in turn translated to a segment of the population, roughly one third, self programming themselves to attain longer life spans.

That cohort is now between 55 and 65 and is well positioned to add a decade or two to their expected lifespan.  At the same time, those contemporaries who failed to take advantage of this effect have been dying off from the usual causes, predominantly cigarettes and alcohol and toxin exposure.  This opens a gap in the statistical formula and we will see unexpected declines in the general death rates.  Much of this is a measure of just how bad it used to be.

On top of that cancer care has been improving and may in fact soon improve dramatically.  As I have already posted, I see plenty of reason to expect all medical causes of death to be well handled and their death rates to be very low by the end of this decade.  So hang on if you can and we may be able to save your butt.

Cancer death rates continue drop: report

By Julie Steenhuysen – Fri Jun 17, 1:03 am ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. cancer death rates are continuing to fall, but not all segments of the population are benefiting, the American Cancer Society said Friday.

Overall, the group predicts 1,596,670 new cancer cases in the United States and 571,950 deaths in 2011.

Death rates for all cancer types fell by 1.9 percent a year from 2001 to 2007 in men and by 1.5 percent a year in women from 2002 through 2007.

Steady overall declines in cancer death rates have meant about 898,000 who would have died prematurely from cancer in the past 17 years did not, the organization said.

Americans with the least education are more than twice as likely to die from cancer as those with the most education, according to the group's annual cancer report.

Death rates for all cancer types have fallen in all racial and ethnic groups among both men and women since 1998 with the exception of American Indian/Alaska Native women, among whom rates were stable.

Black and Hispanic men have had the largest annual decreases in cancer death rates since 1998, falling by 2.6 percent among blacks and 2.5 percent among Hispanics.

New cases of lung cancer among women fell after rising steadily since the 1930s. The decline comes more than a decade after lung cancer rates in men started dropping and reflects differences in smoking trends among U.S. men and women, who took up smoking later in the last century than men.

Lung cancer is expected to account for 26 percent of all cancer deaths among women in 2011 and remains the No. 1 cancer killer of both men and women in the United States.

Breast cancer comes in No. 2 for women. Prostate cancer is the second most common killer of men, and colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths for both sexes.

These four cancers account for almost half the total cancer deaths among men and women.

Cancer rates vary considerably among racial and ethnic groups. For all cancer types, black men have a 14 percent higher rate of new cases and a 33 percent higher death rate than white men, while black women have a 6 percent lower rate of new cancer cases and a 17 percent higher death rate than white women.

The report found cancer rates in the least educated were 2.6 times higher than in the most educated. This was most pronounced in lung cancer, reflecting higher smoking rates among those with less education.

Thirty-one percent of men with 12 or fewer years of education are smokers, compared with 12 percent of college graduates and 5 percent of men with advanced degrees.

(Editing by Todd Eastham)

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