Heart disease has long been the leading killer of Americans. Whether you were white, black or Latino, you should have been afraid of cardiovascular problems; but in a surprising new study released by the American Cancer Society, cancer has now surpassed heart disease to become the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States, according to a report published on CNN.com. Surprisingly, though, we have a lower risk of cancer diagnosis and death, so why is it killing us so much?

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Our worst cancers, it turns out, are cancers of the stomach, liver, cervix and gallbladder, according to Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society and a world-renowned cancer expert and a practicing oncologist. Although cancer rates are different depending on if you're Mexican, Cuban, or from another Latino culture, he does have a few ideas on how to decrease our risk:

The research indicates that cancer deaths can be prevented and lives saved among Hispanics if we increase use of proven cancer screening tests; make the hepatitis B and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine more widely available; and reduce tobacco use, alcohol consumption and obesity rates. Indeed, this message could be life-saving for all Americans.

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Smoking is a large part of why the Latino cancer rates have surpassed our deaths from heart disease. It's not just smoking, though, since poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity is the second leading cause of cancer in the U.S.--and this is all especially a bad problem for Latinas, 43 percent of whom are obese while only 33 percent of non-Hispanic women are obese. Meanwhile, 34 percent of Latino men and 32 percent of non-Hispanic men are obese.

Those are some pretty huge differences, ladies, and I'm honestly scared of what this means for our community--especially the fact that cancer is now our number 1 killer.  

Image via Thinkstock

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About the author

Irina Gonzalez is a Staff Writer for MamásLatinas. She loves pop culture, social media, photography and, above all, discovering new places. She's also a foodie eating healthy and learning to enjoy exercise.

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