Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Strange but true: heart disease and cancer rates are falling!

An interesting trend has come to light that definitely seems surprising: less people are dying from heart disease and cancer, and the incidence of cancer is dropping!  According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine [1] age-specific heart disease deaths worldwide dropped by 39% between 1990 and 2013 and the SEER database reports that over the last 10 years of records, cancer incidence in the U.S. has fallen an average of 0.9% per year.  Also, cancer death rates have trended down and 5-year survival has improved. [2]  

The reason these diseases are becoming less common is most likely multifactorial: better lifestyle choices, better diagnostic abilities, and better treatments probably all play a role.  However, it’s important to note that one of those factors is patient-powered – better lifestyle choices.  The most profound impact we can have on our own heart disease or cancer risk is what we choose to put in our shopping carts and on our table, and our choice to stay active and get enough sleep.  For a wealth of practical strategies to help incorporate those choices into your own life and transform your health with lifestyle medicine, see Good Food, Great Medicine. 

Miles Hassell MD

[1] Roth, G.A. et al. NEJM 2015;372:1333-41