The good new is that the risk of death from colorectal cancer in the United States has dropped dramatically in recent decades, but the bad news is that there are three “hot spots” in Appalachia and the rural South where death rates are “unnecessarily high,” researchers said.
The highest colon cancer death rates are in the lower Mississippi Delta, where rates were 40 percent higher than the rest of the country during 2009 to 2011, according to a study published Wednesday in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
The other two hot spots are western central Appalachia and eastern Virginia/North Carolina, where rates were 18 percent and 9 percent higher, respectively, than elsewhere in the country for that same time period.
Researchers don’t know why rates in these three primarily rural regions are so much higher than the rest of the United States. But they tick off several underlying factors: high poverty, unemployment, obesity rates; low education and health literacy levels, poor access to health care, and lower cancer screening rates.
Some have noted that all of the areas highlighted are in major river systems/water basins – The Mississippi/Missouri and the Ohio rivers (with all their tributaries (Monongehela and Allegany rivers), and the Chesapeake Bay with the Potomac, Delaware, etc. rivers emptying into it. Considering that for many years, farmers and industries have dumped their toxic wastes, including fertilizers and their run offs, into these waterways it certainly seems that there may be a causal relationship.