The prestigious journal Lancet Oncology just reported that cancer has surpassed heart disease as the primary cause of death in 12 European countries.1
Using the World Health Organizationís (WHO) Mortality Database (November 25, 2015 version) on the 53-member states comprising the European region, it was identified that Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Norway and Israel, are now characterized by cancer being the leading killer in their countries.2 This trend is not related to an increase in cancer, but rather from a decrease in cardiovascular disease attributed mostly from improvements in behavioral risk factors (i.e., smoking) and enhanced treatment options (i.e., stents, statins). This shift was first noted in France in 1998, Spain in 1999, and in the United Kingdom in 2011.
I recently wrote about Australia's national effort to decrease smoking by heavily taxing and charging for cigarettes.3, 4 Acknowledging that tobacco use is related to the majority of premature deaths worldwide, the evidence is conclusive: tobacco = end of life. The tobacco lobby's stronghold on American politics needs to be obliterated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated the following:
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including nearly 42,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure. This represents about one in five deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.3
In the absence of a national effort to reduce smoking, the United States will soon replicate Europe's landscape of preventable deaths. This is one critical instance where being number one is not what you want to be.
- Tanday S. Cancer overtakes heart disease as biggest killer in 12 countries. Lancet Oncol. 2016 Sep;17(9):e382.
- World Health Organization. Health Data and Statistics. 2015 Nov 25.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking & Tobacco Use. 2015 Dec 11.
- Boyle D. Tripe jeopardy: Being old, female, and a smoker. TheONC. 2016 May 26.