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Cancer deadlier now than heart disease for U.S. hispanics

The American Cancer Society found cancer to be the new leading cause of death among U.S. Hispanics, surpassing heart disease. This finding is in line with a rising trend of cancer-related deaths in the overall population.

These findings could be a result of the falling rate of heart disease due to improved treatments and the fact that overall the Hispanic population is younger than non-Hispanic whites and blacks, according to the Associated Press.

“Heart disease has been the leading cause of death among Hispanics for decades, but because heart disease deaths have been falling more quickly than cancer deaths among Hispanics, experts had expected cancer deaths to ultimately outpace heart disease deaths,” said Rebecca Siegel, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society, in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times.

The majority of Hispanics in the United States are younger than 55, so they are more likely to die from cancer than heart disease, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States,” reported CNN. “Approximately 16.3 percent of America’s population (50.5 million out of 310 million people) is Hispanic. It is estimated that 112,800 people of Hispanic ethnicity will be diagnosed with cancer and 33,200 will die of the disease in 2012.”

The American Cancer Society offers solutions to these rising numbers, citing changes in lifestyle and regular screenings as effective prevention tactics.

“The research indicates that cancer deaths can be prevented and lives saved among Hispanics if we increase use of proven cancer screening tests; make the hepatitis B and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine more widely available; and reduce tobacco use, alcohol consumption and obesity rates,” reported CNN. “Indeed, this message could be life-saving for all Americans.”

Heart disease has been the nation’s leading cause of death for decades, according to the Associated Press, but now with cancer set to take the lead in the general population, researchers and patients may change alter their focus.

“We’ve been so focused on heart disease mortality for so long… This may change the way people look at their risk,” said Robert Anderson who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention branch that monitors national death statistics, to the Associated Press.