HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Cancer is Nation's Top Killer

Yesterday the American Cancer Society released its annual statistical report which showed for the first time that in the year 2002, the most recent year for which data is available, 476,009 Americans under 85 died of cancer compared with 450,637 who died of heart disease.  This marks the first time that cancer has surpassed heart disease as the number one killer in America.  Health officials report that although deaths from both have fallen, the improvement has been more dramatic for heart disease.  The single biggest reason: fewer smokers.   Health officials expressed hope that many more deaths may be prevented because a third of all cancers are related to smoking, and another third are related to obesity, poor diets and lack of exercise — all factors that also contribute to heart disease.  Thus, if people only stopped smoking, ate right, and exercised more, they might be less likely to suffer from either cancer or heart disease.  The top killers were cancer, heart disease, injuries, lung disease and strokes.  [bm]

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