Summit County has had lowest cancer mortality rate in the nation for decades |

Summit County has had lowest cancer mortality rate in the nation for decades

Summit County had the lowest cancer mortality rates in the country in 1980, and still did in 2014 according to a new study.
Ben Trollinger / |

A study of cancer rates in every county in the United States showed that deaths are substantially lower in Pitkin, Eagle and Summit counties.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington looked at cancer rates in all 3,142 counties. The study determined that “where you live may determine likelihood of dying from cancer,” according to the institute’s website.

The three Colorado Mountain counties were among the lowest for cancer rates for 29 types of the disease. Aspen and Pitkin County had the second-lowest mortality rate from lung cancer in 2014 with a rate equal to 13 deaths per 100,000. It trailed only Summit County with a rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 people. Eagle County was fifth lowest in the country, with a rate equal to 16 deaths per 100,000 people.

Union County in Florida had the highest lung cancer mortality rate at 231 deaths per 100,000 people, the study said. It was followed by four counties in Kentucky.

When looking at mortality rates in females from breast cancer, Summit County was again lowest in the country, with Pitkin County and Eagle County at two and three, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reported.

The mortality rate was 11 deaths per 100,000 people in Summit County and 13 deaths per 100,000 in Pitkin and Eagle counties.

Garfield County did not show up in the top 10 (or bottom 10) in any category.

Madison County, Mississippi, had the highest mortality rate from breast cancer at 52 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014, the study said. Two other counties in Mississippi and two parishes in Louisiana rounded out the five with the highest rates.

When looking at prostate cancer mortality rates, Summit County was again lowest and Pitkin County was third. Summit County had a death rate equal to 10 per 100,000 people while Pitkin County was at 13 per 100,000 people.

The results of the study were reported in a Jan. 24 article in the medical journal JAMA. The article noted that lifestyle choices factor heavily into cancer rates. For example, smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer occurrence and mortality. Obesity is a major risk factor. Smoking and obesity in the mountain counties tends to be lower than in counties as a whole.

The study looked at cancer rates between 1980 and 2014.

“In the 35 years examined, more than 19.5 million Americans died of cancer,” the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said on its website. “The national mortality rate from all cancers combined fell by 20%. Despite this trend, 160 counties showed increases in all-cancer death rates over the same period, raising questions about access to care, prevention efforts, treatment, and other issues.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was founded 10 years ago with a $105 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation gave the organizations another $279 million grant to fund its work over the next decade.

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