Although a growing number of people today are stricken with cancer – the leading cause of death in France since 2004 – their risk of succumbing to this disease is dropping. Nationwide mortality rates continue to vary, most notably on a regional level, as was demonstrated in the distinguished Atlas de la mortalité par cancer en France metropolitaine [Atlas of cancer death in mainland France (excluding overseas territories)], published on January 28. On a generalized basis, the numbers for Northern and Central France clearly point to hypermortality while death rates in the southern portion of the country were lower than the national average.
Three institutions gathered data between 1970 and 2004, and then went on to draw their conclusions. One finding was that the drop in deaths can be explained by reduced exposure to work-/non-work- and lifestyle-/non-lifestyle-choice-related risk factors. Secondly, the geographical disparities diminish for these reasons and because of population shifts occurring more frequently than before; these differences, however, remain marked – especially among males. This finding applies to esophageal cancer, for which rates in the Northwest remain unchanged and those in the South have regressed while overall numbers have dropped.
The differences are strongly linked to alcohol consumption (both quantity and means) and diet (fruits and vegetables).