Cancer has overtaken CVD as the leading cause of death in high-income countries

The study involved 21 countries on 5 continents. The expert group followed 162,534 adults aged 35–70 years from high-risk countries (Canada, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates) for 9.5 years; medium (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Iran, Malaysia, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Turkey and South Africa); and low income (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe). During follow-up, 11,307 (7%) participants died, 9,329 (5.7%) developed cardiovascular diseases, 5,151 (3.2%) were diagnosed with cancer, 4,386 (2.7%) received injuries requiring hospitalization, 2911 (1.8%) had pneumonia and 1830 (1.1%) had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

CVD was the most common cause of death among all participants (40%). However, the indicator differed depending on the income level of countries. Thus, in middle-income countries, CVDs were the cause of 41% of deaths, in low-income countries – 43%, and in high-income countries – only 23%.

An analysis of the number of deaths due to malignancy showed that cancer caused 55% of deaths among participants from high-income countries, 30% in middle-income countries and 15% in low-income countries.

The highest overall mortality rate (regardless of cancer) was recorded in low-income countries (13.3%), the lowest in high-income countries (3.4%), which scientists attributed to unequal access to quality healthcare .

Experts predict that as people live longer with CVD, especially in high-income countries, cancer is likely to become the world’s leading cause of death in the future. In this regard, there is a need to develop new global strategies to combat them.

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