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U.S. cancer death rates decline, but there are some gaps

Consumer Reports News: March 30, 2012 04:38 PM

Death rates from all cancers combined decreased from 1999 to 2008 among men and women in most racial and ethnic groups, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, from the nation's leading cancer organizations.

Although the rates of cancer diagnoses and deaths are decreasing, continuing a decline that began in the early 1990s, there are gaps that must be addressed, says Edward Benz Jr., M.D., president of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The report's authors highlighted cancers associated with excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity.

"The growing obesity problem and decreased overall physical activity in our society compared to decades ago have a real impact on multiple diseases, including cancer," says Jeffrey Meyerhardt, M.D., M.P.H., a colorectal cancer expert at Dana-Farber.

If you watch your diet and manage your weight you can limit the risk of getting many forms of cancer. Screening tests can also help. For example, colonoscopies can cut the risk of colon cancer dramatically. See our "Guide to colon cancer prevention".

The American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries collaborate annually to provide updated information regarding cancer occurrence and trends in the U.S.

Annual Report to the Nation on the status of cancer, 1975-2008, featuring cancers associated with excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity [Cancer via Wiley Online Library]

Maggie Shader

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