SSM Health Medical Minute: Cancer leads heart disease as leading cause of death in US

ST. LOUIS - An important transition is happening across the United States: Cancer was the leading cause of death in more counties than 13 years earlier. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that from 2003 to 2015, the rates of mortality due to heart disease declined by 28% overall.

SSM Health Medical Group oncologist, Dr. Mansoor UI Haq says that cardiovascular awareness is high, "This is because, largely because of increased awareness about cardiovascular disorders and better prevention strategies at this time, but also because I think we are diagnosing cancer more frequently."

Heart disease signals and signs mean more patients seek treatment for heart disease reducing their risk of death. It’s likely that differences in mortality trends could be explained by awareness efforts toward reduction of smoking, better diet, and more exercise to help prevent heart disease.

Also, Dr. Haq says more cancer is being diagnosed overall due to better screening options. "Women getting mammograms, people getting colonoscopies and most recently we are doing CT scans for patients who have had high smoking exposure."

Family history is a factor in getting cancer, but there are things we can control.  "Smoking is one which we can prevent, go for screening studies when they are recommended, certain things like obesity in women and post menopausal women especially there is a risk for breast cancer."

To learn more about cancer care and prevention from SSM Health click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​

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