Roundup: Overall Cancer Death Rate Declining in U.S., But Concerning Trends Reported for Prostate Cancer; and More News
6 min. read
Written By: John Fernandez
Published: January 13, 2023
Written By: John Fernandez
Published: January 13, 2023
American Cancer Society: U.S. Cancer Deaths Down 33% Since 1991, But Prostate Cancer Rate is Climbing
The U.S. rate of people dying from cancer continues to decline, recording a 33 percent decrease since 1991, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society (ACS).
The declining death rate corresponds to an estimated 3.8 million lives saved, according to the report, published Thursday in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The most recent year for which data is available – between 2019 and 2020 – saw a 1.5 percent decrease. Advances in treatment therapies and more people getting screened earlier are major factors in the death rate decline, the ACS says. But the effects of delayed screenings from the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years are not reflected in the data.
“We are thrilled that the death rate from cancer continues to decline,” said Michael Zinner, M.D., CEO and executive medical director for Miami Cancer Institute and Baptist Health Cancer Care, part of Baptist Health South Florida. “But we are greatly concerned about the long-term impact of the slowdown in cancer screenings from the COVID-19 pandemic, which began nearly three years ago. The data from the ACS lags behind by two to three years. As I’ve stated before: delayed screenings due to COVID-19 represent a ticking time bomb with a 10-year fuse.”
The most notable positive trend: a 65 percent reduction in cervical cancer rates in women, ages 20-24, from 2012 through 2019, in the wake of the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. This sharp decrease among women in their early 20s “foreshadows steep reductions in the burden of human papillomavirus-associated cancers, the majority of which occur in women,” the report states.
"The large drop in cervical cancer incidence is extremely exciting because this is the first group of women to receive the HPV vaccine, and it probably foreshadows steep reductions in other HPV-associated cancers," said Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director, surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, and the lead author of the report, in a statement.
The ACS report’s most concerning trend is a reversal in prostate cancer cases, particularly in advanced-state diagnoses. Prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death for men in the U.S. after lung cancer, increased by 3 percent per year from 2014 through 2019 after two decades of decline, the ACS states.
“In terms of proving that HPV vaccines work, the dramatic reduction in cervical cancer is as much proof as we need,” said Dr. Zinner. “With respect to increasing prostate cancer rates, I am disappointed that deaths continue to rise with a cancer that is easily detectable by screenings. Prostate cancer is very treatable and curable in the early stages.”
Since 2011, “the diagnosis of advanced-stage (regional- or distant-stage) prostate cancer has increased by 4 percent to 5 percent annually and the proportion of men diagnosed with distant-stage disease has doubled,” states the ACS in a news release.
"The increasing percentage of men presenting with advanced prostate cancer, which is much more difficult to treat and often incurable, is highly discouraging," said Karen E. Knudsen, M.D, chief executive officer at the American Cancer Society, in a statement. "In order to end cancer as we know it, for everyone, it is imperative for us to focus on cancers where trends for incidence and mortality are going in the wrong direction."
The ACS noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has kept many people from getting their routine cancer screenings, but the impact of these delays has yet to be fully reflected in the data.
“Delays in diagnosis and treatment may lead to an uptick in advanced-stage disease and mortality,” the ACS report states. “These and other secondary consequences of the pandemic will occur gradually over time and will require many years to quantify at the population level because of the 2-year to 3-year lag in population-based cancer incidence and mortality data.”
Good Hydration Linked to Healthy Aging in Long-term Study from National Institutes of Health
New research from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that Adults who stay well-hydrated “appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions, such as heart and lung disease, and live longer” – compared to those who may not get sufficient fluids on a regular basis.
The findings of the NIH study, published in eBioMedicine, was based on health data from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period. Researchers focused on links between serum sodium levels – which increase when fluid intake decreases – and various indicators of health.
The study found that adults with serum sodium levels at the higher end of a normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions and show signs of advanced biological aging, than those with serum sodium levels in the medium ranges, states a news release from the NIH.
Adults with higher levels were also more likely to die at a younger age.
“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.
The findings follow previous research by the same team published in March 2022, which found links between higher ranges of normal serum sodium levels and increased risks for heart failure. Both findings came from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The first ARIC sub-study launched in 1987. It has helped researchers “better understand risk factors for heart disease, while shaping clinical guidelines for its treatment and prevention.”
For the latest analysis, researchers reviewed data on study participants shared during five medical visits – the first two when they were in their 50s, and the last when they were between ages 70-90. They excluded adults who had high levels of serum sodium at baseline check-ins or with underlying conditions, like obesity, that could affect serum sodium levels.
They then evaluated how serum sodium levels correlated with biological aging, which was assessed through 15 health markers. This included factors, such as systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. They also adjusted for factors, like age, race, biological sex, smoking status, and hypertension.
Mediterranean Diet, Primarily Plant-Based, Earns ‘Best Overall Diet’ Honor for 2023
The Mediterranean Diet, promoted widely by nutrition and medical experts, earned the title of best overall diet, according to the newly released 2023 ratings from U.S. News & World Report. Meals from the Mediterranean also ranked first in the categories of best diet for healthy eating and best plant-based diet, the report said.
The Mediterranean Diet incorporates plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, while including whole grains, beans, nuts, seafood, lean poultry and unsaturated fat. It does not recommend meals with red meat, or those high in sugar and saturated fat.
A panel of more than 30 nutritionists, doctors and epidemiologists ranked the best diets, said U.S. News & World Report.
In two new categories added for 2023, the Mediterranean tied with the cholesterol-lowering TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) and flexitarian diets as “Best Family-Friendly Diet, and with DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) for “Best Bone and Joint Health Diet.”
Both DASH and TLC are supported by the U.S. National Institute of Health. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH, researched, developed and tested both diets. Of 24 diets evaluated, DASH, which supports overall heart health and helps lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, also ranked first in the “Best Heart-Healthy Diets” and “Best Diets for Diabetes.”
TLC, which focuses on lowering cholesterol, also ranked first in the “Easiest Diets to Follow” category. To receive top rankings, a diet must be nutritious, safe, easy to follow, effective for weight loss, and protective against diabetes and heart disease, states the NIH.
“Our panelists reviewed each diet and rated them for healthiness, safety, ease of following and promoting a healthy, sustainable lifestyle,” states U.S. News & World Report.
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