Scientists in Seattle, Australia and China report in The Lancet today on the leading causes of death and disability – as well as the many positive health trends – in a rapidly modernizing China.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study, based on Global Burden of Disease data compiled at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), found that China’s rapid economic development over the past few decades has been accompanied by a decline in ‘diseases of poverty’ like malaria, vaccine-preventable infectious diseases and child malnutrition.
The world’s largest nation and new emerging superpower also has seen remarkable progress at lowering childhood and maternal mortality, along with an equally unsurprising rise in the burden of diseases and disorders familiar to wealthier countries such as heart disease, stroke and dementia. Air pollution gets special attention as well.
NPR reported As China Gets Richer, First World Diseases Take Hold, which was the primary theme of the The Lancet special report on China. Similarly, Forbes reported that China’s health problems mirror wealthy nations.
One surprising – and not completely understood or explained – finding out of the study is that China appears to be the undisputed world leader for certain cancers: Liver, stomach and esophageal.
I asked a policy translation specialist at IHME, Katie Leach-Kemon, to dig into this a little deeper using one of IHME’s data visualization tools known as a ’cause pattern’ analysis. Leach-Kemon compiled this graphic below showing age-standardized rates of years-of-life-lost due to different cancers around the world. Here’s a link to the active chart online. Notice my red highlights: