Deaths related to heart disease have dropped so dramatically that cancer has overtaken it as the major cause of death for those under age 85. A
decline in smoking is the reason for this decline. Of the cancers, lung cancer is the major killer, claiming an estimated 163,000 lives this year.
The five-year survival rate for cancer has risen from 50% in the 70's to 74% currently.
For the first time, cancer has surpassed heart disease as the top killer of Americans under 85, health officials said Wednesday. The good news is
that deaths from both are falling, but improvement has been more dramatic for heart disease.
"It's dropping fast enough that another disease is eclipsing it," said Dr. Walter Tsou, president of the American Public Health Association.
The single biggest reason: fewer smokers.
The news is contained in the American Cancer Society's annual statistical report, released Wednesday. In 2002, the most recent year for which
information is available, 476,009 Americans under 85 died of cancer compared with 450,637 who died of heart disease.
That trend actually began in 1999, but "this is the first time we've looked at this by age," said Ahmedin Jemal, a cancer society epidemiologist
and main author of the report.
Those under 85 comprise 98.4 percent of the population, said Dr. Eric Feuer, chief of statistical research for the National Cancer Institute who also
worked on the report.
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Eighty-five is really getting up there. Those over 85 comprise only 2% of the population. It should be noted that by age 85, 50% of the population
develops Alzheimer's disease. One way or another, something will take you out. Nobody gets out of here alive.
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[edit on 05/1/19 by GradyPhilpott]