Cancer Deaths Across The US: Interactive Map

This study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)…

Trends and Patterns of Disparities in Cancer Mortality Among US Counties, 1980-2014, JAMA, 24 January 2017

… links to this great interactive map. Below is just a snapshot I took (of all-cause mortality, not just cancer, although you can select “neoplasms” for that). Clicking the map will take you to the interactive map, where you can chose life expectancy or mortality rates, death by cause, by county, by sex, for the years 1980 to 2014. Mucho info.

You can home in on your county and see how it compares to the rest of the country.

The study itself found that cancer rates overall declined in the last 20 years, but reporting that overall number does a disservice to the places where cancer rates increased (the deep South was a cancer hotbed) and the particular cancers that took off. (Liver cancer and mesothelioma increased in nearly all counties. Liver cancer increased by almost 88% across the country!)

Here’s what the lead author, Ali Mokdad said:

“At the county level, you see huge disparities,” Mokdad said. “Many counties are falling behind while the rest of the country benefits.”

“It makes you wonder: How could this happen in a country like ours, when we spend more money on health than any other country in the world?

Over 19 million people died of cancer in that 24-year period. That is a lot of cancer.

Here’s what they said about diet:

Diet is another risk factor for cancer mortality. Dietary intake in the United States has not improved much since the 1980s. Moreover, fast food quality is not improving, with the exception of french fries. Although recent dietary intake studies in the United States show a sign of improvement and a decline in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, US residents are not doing enough to improve their diets. Unfortunately, there are no adequate data on dietary consumption at the local level. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System included few questions on fruit and vegetable consumption, which did not allow a proper dietary analysis. Improving and monitoring dietary intake in the United States should be a priority for local, state, and federal agencies.

Please tell me that the new administration recognizes that last sentence and plans to act on it. I’m losing faith.

7 thoughts on “Cancer Deaths Across The US: Interactive Map

  1. Bix Post author

    There’s a big push towards genetic medicine in this country. I’m not a believer. I don’t think genes are our fate, at least not in reference to cancer. If genes are so integral in us getting cancer, why are there so many disparities geographically? Genes have some pull, more like … genes load the gun. But environment (diet, lifestyle) pulls the trigger.


  2. Melinda

    It’s diet, it’s pollution, it’s “advanced” technologies like nano-particles (which mimic the effects of asbestos and are found in many products today, even things like washing machines), it’s radon coming from “classy” things like granite countertops, etc. etc. I agree with you. PA is awash with fracking chemicals in the water. I mean, go figure! Thanks for the article.


    1. Bix Post author

      That was a good article, if depressing.

      A quandry I have … we all use energy. We use more and more of it as the decades pass. Is there a way to produce that energy that is simultaneously protective of the environment, affordable, and in sufficient quantities that won’t cause countries to fight with each other over limited supply?

      There are 3 variables there. It’s almost as if tinkering with one affects the others. … If we find a way to produce energy that is inexpensive (but still a boon to energy companies, go figure) maybe it will ruin the environment. Conversely, energy production that protects the environment may be costly.


      1. Bix Post author

        I have similar thoughts about organic food. Why, if it’s better for the environment and healthier for people, isn’t all food produced organically?


      2. Bix Post author

        Another example of this tradeoff:

        Trump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule

        The bill quashes … a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste.

        At the signing, Trump called the regulation “another terrible job killing rule” and said ending it would save “many thousands American jobs, especially in the mines, which, I have been promising you — the mines are a big deal.”

        I think there’s another way, a way to protect coal miners while moving the country away from coal production. But it would cost.


  3. Melinda

    Solar? Wind or water power? Geothermal? Coal & oil & gasworkers could be retrained to run the plants that produce these energy forms.



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