Health Team

Cancer overtakes heart disease as leading killer in N.C.

Posted November 9, 2010

— The North Carolina Division of Public Health reported Tuesday that cancer is now the leading cause of death in North Carolina.

According to newly released 2009 statistics, cancer claimed the lives of 17,476 people last year. Heart disease, displaced this year as the state’s top killer, was responsible for 17,133 deaths.

“Cancer and heart disease have consistently ranked highest in their toll on the people of North Carolina,” State Health Director Jeff Engel said in a statement. “For the most part, these are preventable diseases, so we must continue to educate our citizens about lifestyle changes they can make to stay healthier.”

The most fatal cancers were lung and throat cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer, comprising 46 percent (8,076) of the total cancer deaths.

According to information prepared by the State Center for Health Statistics, more men (9,356) than women (8,120) died of cancer in 2009. Heart disease remains the top killer among women.

To address this growing health concern, the N.C. Division of Public Health recently merged all of its cancer programs into the Cancer Prevention and Control Branch, which supports local health departments, hospitals, community organizations and statewide partners in the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer.

“Through our partnerships, we are able to identify the barriers that exist in local communities, like access to care,” said Linda Rascoe, head of the Cancer Prevention and Control Branch. “Then we are able to develop strategies to address those barriers, with the ultimate goal of reducing the overall cancer burden in North Carolina.”

The cancer branch also is responsible for leading implementation of the statewide cancer plan, developed by the North Carolina Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control. Advisory committee members are appointed by the governor and represent survivors, legislators, physicians, health care professionals and advocates.

For more information on the leading causes of death in North Carolina as well as specific breakdowns of top killers by age group, visit the State Center for Health Statistics website.

For information on cancer prevention and resources in our state, visit


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  • 68_dodge_polara Nov 15, 2010

    And just to feed this conspiracy theory look up the Gerson Therapy.

  • 68_dodge_polara Nov 15, 2010

    Ah yet another conspiracy theory...

  • Big Mike Nov 11, 2010

    honeyisthebest.........I totally believe what you said... Not until the 60's and 70's had cancer ever been a major issue like it is today. With all the bad things we put into our bodies from foods and beverages, and the chemicals in our clothing....especially dyes with toxic formaldehydes, it is no wonder we have the cancers we do

    It's just me on this one, but not until colored dyed bras came along did women begin to get breast cancer in such large numbers. I worked in textiles for years, and the dangers of the formaldehyde chemical was kept out of the media as much as possible. I went through dye houses at times, and you could hardly breath from the odors being so strong.

    And the doctors are right....find a cure for all the killer diseases, and a lot of companies, hospitals, and people will be out of a job....I can't believe we're so dumb.

  • honestyisthebest Nov 10, 2010

    I have talked with several Physicians about cancer, because I just lost my Mother to cancer this year....I find it amusing that a Physician at a cancer treatment center would say that if the cure to cancer was told that the drug companies, researchers, etc would lose to much money. He thinks that people are born with cancer cells and that something triggers the cancers ie. foods, preservatives, enviromental. He said as long as these big drug companies are making so much money they will make sure the cure to cancer is not found or revealed. I think this is terrible! I mean a Physicians are telling people this, while I really appreciate their honesty it is a sad true fact. I hate everything has to revolve around money! To be healthy it takes money, to eat healthy it take money, to buy, healthcare MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. Kinda a Robin Hood story if you ask me?

  • kikinc Nov 10, 2010

    burnhace-A lot of the laboratories ARE in hospitals. I'm sitting in one right now.

  • mpheels Nov 10, 2010

    It isn't enough to look at leading causes of death. Everyone dies eventually, and there will always be a leading cause of death. The real number to look at is leading causes of *premature* death. How many of those cancer deaths were people over the age of 80? 90? My father died of cancer when I was 7, I know how tragic it is to lose a relatively young person to cancer, but the numbers in this article are pretty meaningless. The longer a person lives, the more likely they are to get cancer, even if they've done everything "right," so as the average live expectancy grows, rates of cancer will increase and cancer will always be one of the leading causes of death.

  • burnhace Nov 10, 2010

    What astonishes me in all of this is that not a single person on the news or in the comments section has said anything about the underlying story, which is the tremendous progress that has been made against cardiovascular disease. For example, drugs that lower cholesterol and blood pressure have prevented untold suffering. Much credit goes to the forward thinking of the American Heart Association which has always placed an emphasis on basic research. Clinical studies and education are important, but cures for cancer will be found in laboratories, not in hospitals.

  • TAKES_TO2_TANGO Nov 9, 2010

    please no one pay any attention to wildat. People like that only do it for attention.

    I love a good conspiracy theory. Anyone got a link to some of this stuff about having a cure for cancer? Seriously I would like to read it

  • IAMAmerican Nov 9, 2010

    Not like you, I do not receive anything from the public forum. Get my meaning.

    Nope sure don't get your meaning!!!!! My IQ is slightly higher I guess that's why

  • monkeyboy Nov 9, 2010

    woo hoo! go cancer!!