Death rates from all cancers combined for men, women and children continued to decline in the United States between 2004 and 2008, according to the “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2008,” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies.
Overall cancer incidence rates among men decreased by an average of 0.6% per year between 2004 and 2008. Overall cancer incidence rates among women declined 0.5% per year from 1998 through 2006, with rates leveling off from 2006 through 2008.
A section of the report highlights the effects of excess weight and lack of physical activity on cancer risk. Esophageal adenocarcinoma, cancers of the colon and rectum, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, endometrial cancer and breast cancer among postmenopausal women are associated with being overweight or obese. Several of these cancers also are associated with not being sufficiently active.
“This report demonstrates the value of cancer registry data in identifying the links among physical inactivity, obesity and cancer,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “It also provides an update of how we are progressing in the fight against cancer by identifying populations with unhealthy behaviors and high cancer rates that can benefit from targeted, lifesaving strategies and interventions to improve lifestyle behaviors and support healthy environments.”
For more than 30 years, excess weight, insufficient physical activity and an unhealthy diet have been second only to tobacco as preventable causes of disease and death in the United States, according to the CDC. Since the 1960s, tobacco use has declined by a third while obesity rates have doubled, significantly affecting the relative contributions of these factors to the disease burden. Excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and arthritis, as well as many cancers.
Lung cancer rates: In addition to drops in overall cancer mortality and incidence, this years report also documents the second consecutive year of decreasing lung cancer mortality rates among women. Lung cancer death rates in men have been decreasing since the early 1990s.
Other cancer rates: Colorectal cancer incidence rates also decreased among men and women from 1999 through 2008. Breast cancer incidence rates among women declined from 1999 through 2004 and plateaued from 2004 through 2008. Incidence rates of some cancers, including pancreas, kidney, thyroid, liver and melanoma, increased from 1999 through 2008.
Children: Among children ages 19 and younger, cancer incidence rates increased 0.6% per year from 2004 through 2008, continuing trends dating to 1992, while death rates decreased 1.3% per year during the same period. These patterns mirror longer-term trends.
Racial/ethnic disparities: Among racial and ethnic groups, the highest cancer incidence rates between 2004 and 2008 were among black men and white women. Cancer death rates from 2004 through 2008 were highest among black men and black women, but these groups showed the largest declines for the period between 1999 and 2008 when compared with other racial groups. The differences in death rates by racial/ethnic group, sex and cancer site may reflect differences in risk factors, as well as access to and use of screening and treatment, according to the CDC
Continued progress against cancer in the United States will require individual and community efforts to promote healthy weight and sufficient physical activity among youth and adults, according to the report, which was co-authored by researchers from the CDC, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.
The report appeared this week on the website of the journal Cancer and is scheduled for publication in the May issue. To read it, visit http://bit.ly/GXjWeL.