Cancer replaces CVD as no. 1 killer in high-income countries

Researchers have uncovered evidence of a global “epidemiological transition” that’s seeing cancer overtake cardiovascular disease as the biggest killer in developed countries, Reuters reports.

According to work published in The Lancet and presented at the ESC Congress in Paris this month, 17.7 million deaths of a total 55 million worldwide in 2017 were the product of CVD, including episodes of heart failure, angina, heart attack and stroke. But many of those fatalities were in lower-income countries, where statins and other lipid-lowering therapies are harder to come by.

In higher-income countries—where rates of heart disease have been declining for years—Gilles Dagenais and colleagues said cancer killed twice as many people as CVD.

“Our report found cancer to be the second-most common cause of death globally in 2017, accounting for 26% of all deaths,” Dagenais, of Laval University in Quebec, told Reuters. “But as (heart disease) rates continue to fall, cancer could likely become the leading cause of death worldwide, within just a few decades.”

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