According to a new study published today, cancer is now the leading cause of death for Hispanics in the United States, outpacing heart disease. That trend is expected to eventually become identical for society as a whole also.

Heart disease was the number one cause of deaths for Hispanics, Whites, Asians and African Americans, but as new drugs for heart disease have become widespread, people with heart disease are living longer.

Researchers say another reason is due to age, most Hispanics in the U.S. are under 55, and heart disease generally affects people older than 55.

Cancer became the leading cause of death among Asian Americans in about 2000, Siegel said. She’s the lead author of the study about the latest development, published in the September/October issue of the society’s publication: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The rest of the country is expected to follow the pattern in the next decade or so, she said.

“In the population overall, the number of deaths from cancer will overcome those from heart disease,” she said. The finding is predictive of the general population, she said, adding that the country’s Hispanic population is younger than the overall population, so the crossover has taken place sooner.

The current report uses data from the National Cancer Institute, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North American Assn. of Central Cancer Registries and the National Center for Health Statistics.

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