Cancer number one cause of death in male population

16/05/2006 14:00

Altogether, 136.4 thousand people died in the Netherlands in 2005. Cancer is currently the main cause of death in the male population, followed by cardiovascular diseases.

Cancer second most important cause of death among women

Last year, 21.2 thousand men died from cancer. Cancer tops the list of main causes of death in the male population. Cardiovascular diseases comes second with a death toll of 20.8 thousand. With 22.6 thousand, cardiovascular diseases are still the main cause of death among women. Last year, 18.1 thousand women died from cancer. Over the past century, cardiovascular diseases have always been the main cause of death. If the current trend persists, cancer will also be the main cause of death for women around the year 2010.

Mortality by main causes of death, 2005

Mortality by main causes of death, 2005

Downward trend in cardiovascular mortality

Over the past decades, the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases has fallen almost continually. The downward trend was most significant among men aged between 30 and 60. If the ageing of the population is taken into account, the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases has almost been halved since 1970. Reduction of risk factors like smoking, healthier eating habits and improved preventive and curative health care were important in this respect.

Cancer and cardiovascular mortality, per 1,000 men/women, standardised, 1970–2005

Cancer and cardiovascular mortality, per 1,000 men/women, standardised, 1970–2005

Number of female cancer deaths stable

Although the number of cancer deaths increases annually, the risk of dying from cancer has been reduced since the late 1980s, in particular for men. For women the risk of dying from cancer has levelled off some years ago. This is mainly because women run a higher risk of dying from lung cancer. Several decades ago, the percentage of smoking men dropped dramatically, whereas, at the same time, more women began to smoke.

Cancer deaths by type of cancer, 2005

Cancer deaths by type of cancer, 2005

Large differences by type of cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cause of death among women who die from cancer, but lung cancer is anticipated to be the number one cause of cancer death for women in 2007. Lung cancer is also anticipated to be the number one cause of cancer death for men for a long time to come. The number of men who die from prostate cancer is on the increase. This is chiefly caused by ageing of the population.

Jan Hoogenboezem and Joop Garssen