Last month, I learned that cancer (of all types) is in a virtual tie with heart disease as cause of death in the United States. I was stunned.
In 1958, heart disease killed about 2.5 times as many Americans as cancer. In 2014, cancer was the leading cause of death in 22 states:
The reasons are complex and include advances in medical understanding and technology regarding the cardiovascular system combined with living longer.
At the same time, despite billions being invested in cancer research and mapping the genome, we have made practically zero progress on cancer.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon and Congress declared war on cancer, “vowing that the disease would be cured within five years.” Since then, we have spent $105 billion on research through the National Cancer Institute. Other organizations have spent untold billions more. And yet age-adjusted death rates are flat; conversely, deaths from heart disease have declined more than 60%.
This chart from the CDC shows age-adjusted death rates by cause since 1958: cancer is almost a flat line.
From 2009 to 2010, the age-adjusted death rate for heart disease, decreased 2.0%, whereas the age-adjusted death rate for cancer decreased only 0.4%. These two diseases account for about half of all deaths in the US.