The news is so saturated with negative stories that it’s sometimes hard to realize that we actually live in the most peaceful and prosperous time in world history. Worldwide poverty is on the steep decline and so is the number of people who die from war every year.
The United States recently had a piece of spectacular news that should have made headlines everywhere. A new report shows that 2017 saw the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Cancer is the number two cause of death for all adults in
the United States right behind heart disease.
The information was outlined in Cancer Statistics 2020, the latest edition of the American Cancer Society’s annual report on cancer rates and trends.The report shows that the cancer death rate declined by 29% between 1991 and 2017, and made a huge drop of 2.2% from 2016 to 2017. Over the past decade (2008 to 2017) the average cancer death rate declined by about 1.5% per year.
Over the past 26 years, there has been a precipitous drop in
deaths from four types of cancer: lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate.
One of the most dramatic was lung cancer. Since 1990, the death rate in men has dropped by 51% and 26% in women. The decline in lung cancer mortality coincides with a big drop in tobacco use among Americans, but there is still a long way to go.
“A decline in consumption of cigarettes is credited with being the most important factor in the drop in cancer death rates,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
“Strikingly though, tobacco remains by far the leading cause of cancer deaths today, responsible for nearly three in ten cancer deaths,” he continued.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017 cigarette smoking reached its lowest level ever recorded in the United States with about 47 million (1 in 5) U.S. adults used a tobacco product that year. However, an estimated 14% of U.S. adults (34 million) were current “every day” or “some day” smokers. That is a massive drop from 1965 when 42.4% of Americans smoked cigarettes daily.
Another way that Americans can create another sharp decline in cancer mortality is by fighting against obesity the same way we’re fighting against smoking.
A shocking report published by CNN found that “over half of the nation will be obese within 10 years” and one in four will be “severely obese” and at least 100 pounds overweight.
Being obese is associated with 13 different types of cancers and account for 40% of all diagnosed in the U.S. “A majority of American adults weigh more than recommended – and being overweight or obese puts people at higher risk for a number of cancers – so these findings are a cause for concern,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “By getting to and keeping a healthy weight, we all can play a role in cancer prevention.”
Cancer prevention is seriously important to one’s personal
health but it’s also important for the nation’s health as a whole. In a world
where we pool our money together for health insurance both private and
government-provided, unhealthy people wind up costing healthy people a lot of money.
But the good news is that if we can drastically lower the number of people who smoke, we can probably do the same for those who practice unhealthy eating habits as well.
Photo credit: Flickr and Pixabay.