Roxanne Nelson, RN, BSN
Cancer is now the leading cause of death in high-income countries, where it is responsible for twice as many deaths as cardiovascular disease, according to findings from a new global report.
“The world is witnessing a new epidemiologic transition among the different categories of noncommunicable diseases, with cardiovascular disease no longer the leading cause of death in high-income countries,” lead author Gilles Dagenais, MD, professor emeritus, Laval University, Quebec, Canada, said in a statement.
However, worldwide, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mortality. Cardiovascular disease-related deaths were 2.5 times more common among middle-aged adults in low-income countries than in HICs, although there was a substantially lower burden of cardiovascular disease risk factors in these populations as compared with wealthier countries.
The study authors suggest that the higher cardiovascular disease-related mortality observed in low-income countries may primarily be due to a lower quality of healthcare — first hospitalization rates and the use of cardiovascular disease medication were lower in both LICs and middle-income countries.
“Our report found cancer to be the second most common cause of death globally in 2017, accounting for 26 percent of all deaths,” commented Dagenais.
“But as cardiovascular disease rates continue to fall, cancer could likely become the leading cause of death worldwide within just a few decades,” he added.
The findings come from the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiologic (PURE) study, published online on Sept. 3 in the Lancet.
The high-income countries were Canada, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates.
The study did not include the United States, but previous research shows that cancer is now the leading cause of death, having surpassed CVD in about half of the states, and it is the leading cause of death in the Hispanic population, as reported by Medscape Medical News.
The middle-income countries were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Iran, Malaysia, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Turkey and South Africa.
The low-income countries were Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
For information about cardiovascular disease, visit the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute here.
For information about cancer, visit the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute here.