Cancer now No. 1 killer of U.S. Hispanics
Although the death rate has been declining since 2000, cancer is now the leading cause of death for U.S. Hispanics.
September 17th, 2012
01:27 PM ET

Cancer now No. 1 killer of U.S. Hispanics

By Dr. Otis Brawley, Special to CNN

Editor's note: CNN conditions expert Dr. Otis Webb Brawley is the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, a world-renowned cancer expert and a practicing oncologist. He is also the author of the book "How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America."

(CNN) - Cancer has surpassed heart disease to become the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States, according to an American Cancer Society report released Monday.

Every three years since 2000, scientists at the cancer society have published Cancer Facts and Figures for Hispanics/Latinos. Such studies provide data that help develop an efficient science-based cancer control plan.

Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States. Approximately 16.3% of America's population (50.5 million out of 310 million people) is Hispanic. It is estimated that 112,800 people of Hispanic ethnicity will be diagnosed with cancer and 33,200 will die of the disease in 2012.

The finding is due in part to the younger age distribution of Hispanics. Approximately one in 10 Hispanics is age 55 or over, compared to one in three non-Hispanics.

Among non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans, heart disease remains the leading cause of death, according to Monday's American Cancer Society report, the fifth.

While cancer is the most common cause of death for all three populations under the age of 85, there are fewer Hispanics in the United States over the age of 85, where heart disease is predominant.