Times Colonist

Cancer top killer in every province

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Cancer has become the leading cause of death in every province in Canada for the first time, but doctors say it’s nothing new.

Cancer accounted for 30 per cent of all deaths in the country in 2008, Statistics Canada said Tuesday. The second-biggest killer was heart disease, at 21 per cent.

That means the two conditions accounted for more than half of the 238,617 deaths in the country that year.

“This is actually something that we’ve seen as early as 2005, when we noticed that cancer was the leading cause of death surpassing cardiovasc­ular diseases, respirator­y diseases and other causes of death nationally,” said Dr. Prithwish De, epidemiolo­gist for the Canadian Cancer Society.

De said the top four cancers affecting Canadians are lung, colon, breast and prostate cancer.

“Over time, we’ve seen lung cancer death in men declining, but the decline has not happened for women yet,” said De.

“The decline in smoking among women only happened during the mid-1980s … because of that lag, we see the decline in mortality among women happening later than men,” he adds.

Prior to 2008, cancer already had been the leading cause of death in every province except Prince Edward Island.

The next leading causes of death were: stroke, chronic lower respirator­y diseases, accidents (unintentio­nal injuries), diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.

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