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Cancer Now Leading Cause of Death in Some European Nations

Gains against cardiovascular disease, especially in Western Europe, likely behind the shift

MONDAY, Aug. 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the leading cause of death in 12 European countries, according to a study published online Aug. 14 in the European Heart Journal.

In the 53 countries defined as the European region by the World Health Organization, CVD killed more than 4 million people in 2016. Those deaths accounted for 45 percent of all deaths in those nations. Cancer accounted for less than half the number of deaths from CVD in Europe as a whole, the researchers said.

However, success in preventing and treating CVD seems to have led to large declines in CVD mortality in a number of countries. Cancer now kills more men than CVD in these 12 countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom, the researchers found. Furthermore, cancer now kills more women than CVD in Denmark and Israel.

“Although we have seen progress across Europe in the prevention and treatment of CVD, leading to decreases in mortality from it, it is clear that such progress is not consistent across the continent,” Nick Townsend, Ph.D., of the British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a journal news release. “Improved data need to be collected in all countries in order to make comparisons on deaths and suffering from CVD between countries so that health professionals and national governments can target interventions more effectively to reduce inequalities.”

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