What links plateauing deaths from heart disease and cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Deaths from heart disease declined a lot until the last decade, and then began to level off. Ditto for deaths from certain cancers, a recent study finds. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says there is a common denominator. 

Nelson: Certainly I think if you look broadly at cancer mortality declines and you look by specific diseases that there have been profound declines. But if you look at diseases like pancreas cancer, gall bladder cancer, liver cancer they may actually even be on the rise and so I think what they’re seeing here is that obesity may be a contributor to why they’re on the rise in that they’re tracking with heart disease mortality, where obesity may be a contributor.   :24

Nelson notes that just as with many risk factors for both cancer and heart disease, obesity is within an individual’s control and should be acknowledged as risky. He says that since obesity develops over time, people should monitor their weight and intervene early, perhaps seeking the advice of a nutritionist to help. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.