CDC: Cancer death rates drop while heart disease deaths rise in the U.S.

Two of the leading causes of death have had opposite trajectories in the U.S. over the last two decades, despite sharing similar lifestyle and health-risk factors. Cancer death rates have dropped 19% in the U.S. from 1999 to 2017, while heart disease death rates saw an initial drop of 22% from 1999, they increased 4% from 2011 to 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency outlined the death rate trends for both cancer and heart disease from 1999 to 2017 among middle-age adults between 45 and 64, noting that the two are among the top killers in the nation and have several of the same underlying causes and risks, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and tobacco use.

The decline in cancer death rates was greater between 1999 and 2007 and 2014 to 2017, about 1.5% annually during those years, compared to 0.5% from 2007 to 2014. By comparison, heart disease death rates dropped, but then rose again, meaning that by 2017 the rate was 19% lower than in 1999. Cancer death rates have always historically been higher than heart disease, and were 37% higher in 2017, the CDC found.

Both men and women saw similar patterns in decline for both cancer and heart disease over the last two decades, and both saw a pattern of increase in heart disease death rates more recently. Non-Hispanic white women saw the greatest increase in heart disease death rates by gender and ethnicity, at 12%. Over the same time period, Hispanic women and men experienced an initial decline before heart disease death rates leveled off.

See the full report here.