Cancer overtakes heart disease as No1 killer in European region

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Cancer now kills more people than heart disease in a number of European countries, according to the latest data.

Cancer has now overtaken heart diseases as the main cause of death in 12 European countries, with 17.3 million deaths globally, the data revealed.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, showed that in the European region (which is defined as the 53 member states of the World Health Organization), more men die of cancer than of diseases of heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular or CVD).

The findings showed that in France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Britain more men die of cancer than of CVD, and this was also the case in Norway and Israel (which are not members of the EU). France was the first country where cancer overtook heart disease as the main cause of death in men.

According to figures from 2011, 92,375 men in France died from cancer and 64,659 died from heart diseases. Figures from Spain from 2013 suggest that 67,711 men died from cancer and 53,487 died from heart disease. In Britain, 87,511 men died from cancer and 79,935 from CVD in 2013.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes more than four million deaths each year, or 45% of all deaths. 

Lead author Nick Townsend, from the University of Oxford, said: “The 12 countries in which cancer has overtaken heart diseases as the main cause of death are all found in Western Europe. The highest numbers of deaths from heart diseases tend to be seen in Eastern European countries. It is clear that the progress that has been made in Western Europe and most EU countries is yet to be achieved equally throughout the region.”