August 13, 2009
Cancer Death Rates Sharpest Decline In Children

Cancer death rates are dropping for multiple reasons.

Grand Rapids, Mich. (Aug. 13, 2009) – The number of cancer deaths has declined steadily in the last three decades. Although younger people have experienced the steepest declines, all age groups have shown some improvement, according to a recent report in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Our efforts against cancer, including prevention, early detection and better treatment, have resulted in profound gains, but these gains are often unappreciated by the public due to the way the data are usually reported,” said Eric Kort, M.D., who completed the study while employed as a research scientist at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Cancer mortality rates are usually reported as composite age-adjusted rates.  These rates have been declining modestly since the 1990's. However, these statistics heavily emphasize the experience of the oldest Americans for whom mortality rates are the highest.  As a result, trends emerging in younger Americans can be concealed. 

The decline in cancer death rates has been sharpest among children.

As an alternative to age-adjustment, Kort examined cancer mortality rates stratified by age and found that for individuals born since 1925, every age group has experienced a decline in cancer mortality. The youngest age groups have experienced the steepest decline at 25.9 percent per decade, but even the oldest groups have experienced a 6.8 percent per decade decline.

We might expect a general decline in cancer death rates due to the decline in the fraction of the population that smokes cigarettes. But that steep decline in child cancer death rates probably isn't due to less exposure to parental cigarette smoke.

We have lots of ways to cut our cancer death risk. Some studies have found a reduced risk of colorectal cancer from aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Turns out aspirin will help against some colorectal cancers even after diagnosis.

Regular use of aspirin after colorectal cancer diagnosis may reduce the risk of cancer death, report investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital. In the August 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study's authors also find that the aspirin-associated survival advantage was seen primarily in patients with tumors expressing the COX-2 enzyme, a characteristic of two-thirds of colorectal cancers.

Intermittent calorie restriction might cut your cancer risk too. Want more ways to cut your cancer risk? Lots of dietary changes will cut your risk of death from cancer.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 August 13 11:18 PM  Aging Cancer Studies

Anonymous said at February 15, 2010 9:03 PM:

Show us the data and missing groups those under 40 over 80 and in between

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