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Heart disease, cancer top killers in China
Updated: 2005-09-15 09:14

Heart disease, cancer and stroke are now the top killers of middle-aged people in China, fueled by high blood pressure and smoking, which have developed alongside the country's economy, according to one of the largest surveys of its kind, AP reported.

Heart disease, cancer top killers in China
Chinese actor Fu Biao, 42, died of liver cancer in Beijing August 30, 2005.
The research into the major causes of death in adults found that over the past 45 years, China has undergone a huge health transition. Infectious disease has been replaced by the same chronic killers that plague the West.

The findings from the study of nearly 170,000 Chinese men and women over age 40 showed that about two-thirds of the 20,033 people who died during that time were killed by heart disease, cancer or stroke. The conclusions were based on medical data collected in 1991 with followup evaluations in 1999 and 2000.

Of those deaths involving people in their 40s to mid-60s — prime working years — Chinese mortality rates from each of the three categories topped deaths among the same age group in the United States, according to the study.

"We are very surprised by this finding," said lead co-author Jiang He of Tulane University's Department of Epidemiology in New Orleans. "This study indicates that chronic disease is not only (the) leading cause of death in wealthy countries, but also (in) developing countries, such as China."

The results, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, back up what Robert Beaglehole, the World Health Organization's director of chronic diseases, has known for a long time.

"I think it's probably exactly what it was like in the United States a couple decades ago," he said of China's health situation.

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