For the first time, cancer has overtaken heart disease as the number-one cause of death across Canada, according to the latest statistics here .
According to numbers released yesterday, cancer accounted for 29.6% of deaths (70 558) in 2008–the latest year for which stats have been made available by heath authorities. Heart disease caused 21.3% of deaths (50 722).
Stroke, in third place, caused 5.8% (13 870) of deaths.
Statistics from the previous year had cancer leading heart disease in every province and territory with the exception of Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories. In the 2008 statistics, heart disease has now moved into second place in every province/territory, with the exception of Nunavut, where suicide ranks second.
Between 2007 and 2008, cancer deaths climbed 1.4% nationally, continuing a trend seen since 2000. By contrast, heart-disease deaths declined between 2000 and 2006 but actually crept upward between 2007 and 2008.
In the United States, heart disease is still the leading cause of death.
Preliminary US numbers published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that heart disease was still the leading cause of death for both 2008 and 2009, followed by malignant neoplasms, with both diseases declining in this period, although that decline was three times greater for heart disease .
Now, if we can work on obesity and diabetes, we can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease even further.