Although cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, cancer is moving into a lead role among men in a dozen European countries. While cancer deaths are increasing in Europe, deaths from cardiovascular disease are decreasing, likely due to improvements in prevention and treatment, according to an analysis published in the European Heart Journal.
In the European region (which researchers defined as 53 member states of the World Health Organization) cardiovascular disease causes more than 4 million deaths each year, accounting for 40 percent of deaths among men and 49 percent among women.
However, in 10 of the 15 European Union (EU) countries more men die from cancer than cardiovascular disease, the report found. These countries include: Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the UK. The same was shown in Norway and Israel.
The trend was first spotted in France where in 2011 (data from the most recent year available) approximately 92,000 men died from cancer compared to nearly 65,000 from cardiovascular disease, noted the report.
Still, there are large inequalities between European countries who experience deaths from cardiovascular disease. “The 12 countries in which cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease as the main cause of death are all found in Western Europe, with nine of them having been members of the EU before 2004,” lead researcher Dr. Nick Townsend at the University of Oxford, said in a statement. The researchers point to these countries having better resources to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease than other European countries.
“Although we’ve seen progress across Europe in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, leading to decreases in mortality from it, it is clear that such progress is not consistent across the continent,” said Townsend. “We need more research into why some countries are showing improved outcomes, while others are not.”
Here are other statistics from the analysis worth noting:
- Cancer causes 17.3 million deaths globally each year.
- Of a total of 3.8 million deaths in the 15 EU countries, cardiovascular disease accounted for 33 percent of deaths (1.3 million) compared to 54 percent of deaths in non-EU member countries (2.1 million).
- In Spain, the next country in which cancer outpaced cardiovascular disease, nearly 68,000 men died from cancer and approximately 53,000 died from cardiovascular disease in 2013 (most recent data recorded).
- In the UK in 2013, nearly 88,000 men died from cancer and nearly 80,000 from cardiovascular disease.
- In Denmark and Israel, more women die from cancer than cardiovascular disease.