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Rural Americans are more likely to die of preventable causes such as cancer and heart disease than urban dwellers

Rural Americans more often die from potentially preventive causes than their city counterparts, a new government study shows.

These causes include cancer, heart disease injury, respiratory disease, and stroke according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Research.

Between 2010 and 2017, rural areas saw an increased difference in preventive deaths due to cancer, heart disease and respiratory tract, compared to urban areas. This is despite the fact that preventive cancer deaths decreased to less than 10% of all nationwide deaths from cancer in 201


"We are encouraged to discover that overall preventive deaths from cancer have decreased, but there is still a persistent and striking gap between Americans in rural areas and urban for this and other leading causes of death, "said the CDC director. Robert Redfield in a news release from the agency.

The difference in rural / urban remained approximately the same for deaths due to stroke but reduced for accidental injuries. Researchers said that the shrinking gap for preventive damage is not due to improvements in rural areas. Instead, they attributed it to a spike in urban areas, largely due to the opioid crisis.

Using data from the National Vital Statistics System, CDC researchers calculated potentially preventable deaths for people under 80 years of age.

The researchers were able to drill beyond a distinction between urban and rural into finer categories. These included large urban areas, striped metropolitan areas, medium-sized subways, small subways, micropolitical and rural areas.

The southeastern United States had the highest number of preventable deaths, according to the report.

  • In 2017, 22% of cancer deaths in most rural areas were potentially preventive compared to 29% in 2010. In most urban areas, 3% of cancer deaths were potentially preventive in 2017, compared to 18% in 2010.
  • In both 2010 and In 2017, 45% of deaths in heart disease in rural areas were considered potentially preventive – compared to 24% in extended family areas in 2010 and 19% in 2017.
  • In 2010, 61% of deaths from accidental injury were potentially preventive in most rural areas, compared to 25% in the most urban. In 2017, it rose to 64% in rural areas and 48% in urban areas.
  • In 2017, 57% of rural deaths from chronic respiratory disease were potentially preventive, up from 54% in 2010. This was compared with 13% in the most urban counties in 2017 and 23% in 2010.
  • In 2017, 38% of deaths in stroke were in rural areas potentially preventable, compared with 42% in 2010. In large urban areas 23% were potentially preventive in 2010 and 17% in 2017.

Closing the gaps starts by recognizing that rural people tend to be older and sicker than people in cities , said the CDC. Compared to city dwellers, Americans in rural areas smoke more, have higher rates of obesity, report less physical activity during leisure time and are less likely to crush themselves while driving.

They are also poorer, have less access to health care and are less likely to have health insurance.

To combat these problems, CDC urged rural healthcare providers to prioritize blood pressure and cancer screening. The agency also urged people in rural areas to become more active, eat healthier, lose weight, quit smoking, and wear seat belts.

Researchers added that doctors should be more careful when prescribing opioids.

The report was published Nov. 8 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report .

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