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Originally published March 28, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Page modified March 28, 2012 at 6:57 PM

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Tanning, obesity cloud falling U.S. cancer rates

Cancer rates in the U.S. continue to fall, according to a report released Wednesday. The rate of new cancer cases has been inching down...

The Associated Press

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Does anyone know if it is ok to smoke in a tanning bed? MORE
Of course the tanning will drop, people can't fit in the booths anymore. MORE
Just eat a bowl of broccoli. That'll kill anything. ;-) MORE


ATLANTA — Cancer rates in the U.S. continue to fall, according to a report released Wednesday.

The rate of new cancer cases has been inching down at a rate of about half a percent each year since 1999, and the overall cancer-death rate has dropped by 1.5 percent annually in adults and 1.7 percent in children.

The figures come from a report issued annually since 1998 by a group of government agencies and other organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cancer Society. The new report includes nearly every cancer case reported in the United States through 2008.

Health officials say cancer rates have been declining, because of better screening, treatment advances and efforts to prevent some cancers by reducing smoking and other unhealthful behaviors. In 2008, for the second consecutive year, lung-cancer death rates declined for women. Lung-cancer death rates for men have been falling since the 1990s.

Prostate-cancer death rates continued to fall, and colon-cancer death rates for men and women continued to drop. Rates of new cases of those diseases fell, too.

The breast-cancer death rate also continues to decline, but the rate of new breast-cancer cases — which fell 1999 through 2004 — has leveled off since then. Health officials believe that's partly related to a plateau in breast-cancer screening rates.

While there's a lot of good news in the report, the authors noted some concerns. One is increases in skin-cancer cases and deaths, which experts believe are being boosted by the use of tanning beds.

The authors also cited the nation's weight problem. Two of every three adults is overweight or obese, and that seems to be contributing to rising case rates for cancers of the esophagus, uterus, pancreas and kidney. Excess weight triggers production of insulin and certain hormones that can play a role in cancer growth, experts say.

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