One study shows that cancer now causes more deaths in middle-aged people in high-income countries.Globally, heart problems and stroke are the leading cause of death at this age. But researchers say people in rich countries are 2.5 times more likely to die of cancer than heart disease in their middle years.
In poor countries, the reverse is true — they are three times more likely to claim life with heart disease.
The study, published in The Lancet, is drawn from a global research program following the lives of thousands of people from 21 countries. People from the UK are not included.
Between 2005 and 2016, researchers led by a team from McMaster University in Canada saw the fate of 160,000 people enrolled in the program.
These people initially had an average age of 50.
More than 11,000 deaths occurred, with nearly four times more deaths in low-income countries than in high-income countries.
In approximately 2,000 cases, the cause of death was unclear.
Among others, heart disease was more than 40% in middle and low-income countries, but less than a quarter in high-income countries.
Researchers say this may be because rich countries provide more medicines and treat more people in hospitals.
Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation said that “huge progress” meant that many people survived heart attacks and strokes, but a growing number were living with “disability and debilitating after effects” of heart disease.