Cancer is now the leading cause of death in 12 countries

There’s a new leading cause of death in certain European countries, and it’s actually not bad news.

Worldwide, heart disease tends to be the leading cause of death. In the US alone, it’s responsible for 614,348 deaths a year, while cancer was responsible for 591,699.

But a new report published Monday in the European Hearth Journal found that cancer has now beaten out cardiovascular disease (this includes coronary heart disease and stroke) as the leading cause of death in men.

That’s at least in part thanks to prevention and treatment measures for these heart conditions that have become more effective and more widely implemented in recent years.

These countries had fewer heart disease deaths than cancer deaths:

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • UK
  • Norway
  • Israel

Still, researchers said, there’s a ways to go when it comes to preventing the cardiovascular disease (or CVD) that leads to death.

“These figures highlight the wide inequalities between European countries in deaths from CVD,” lead researcher Dr. Nick Townsend said in a release. “The highest numbers of deaths from CVD tend to be seen in Eastern European countries” — which may not have the same resources available to devote toward primary and preventative care.

Up next, the researchers want to discern the reasons that cardiovascular disease deaths are down in some countries, but not in others. That will hopefully lead to more effective plans for bringing those deaths down around the world.

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