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I heard that cancer is now the number one killer of Americans; is that true?


It depends on what age group of Americans you consider. Heart disease remains the number one killer for the entire population when all ages are considered. For Americans under the age of 85, cancer has been the number one killer since 1999. The death rates from both heart disease and cancer have been decreasing. As the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society stated in a recent joint release, “In this situation neither of our organizations wants to be number one.”


What is important is that Americans understand that chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer account for 2 out of every 3 deaths in this country. These deaths could be prevented if Americans took four simple steps: don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, be active, and see your health care provider for appropriate prevention and screening.



Gail Carlson, MPH Ph.D., Continuing Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia

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Last update: Wednesday, November 26, 2008




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