Cardiovascular and cancer mortality among Canadians of European, south Asian and Chinese origin from 1979 to 1993: an analysis of 1.2 million deaths.
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BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease and cancer are important health problems worldwide, yet our knowledge of these conditions is derived principally from populations of European descent. To investigate ethnic variations in major causes of death in Canada, the authors examined total and cause-specific mortality among European, south Asian, and Chinese Canadians. METHODS: Canadians of European, south Asian and Chinese origin were identified in the Canadian Mortality Database by last name and country of birth and in the population census by self-reported ethnicity. Age-standardized death rates by cause, per 100,000 population, were calculated for ages 35 to 74 years from 1979 to 1993 and in 5-year intervals grouped around census years (1979/83, 1984/88 and 1989/93). RESULTS: Rates of death from ischemic heart disease were highest among Canadians of south Asian origin (men 320.2, women 144.5) and European origin (men 319.6, women 109.9) and were markedly lower among Canadians of Chinese origin (men 107.0, women 40.0); the rates declined significantly in all 3 groups over the study period. Rates of death from cerebrovascular disease were relatively low and showed less ethnic variation (Canadian men of European, south Asian and Chinese origin 49.5, 47.0 and 45.8 respectively; Canadian women of European, south Asian and Chinese origin 34.8, 39.0 and 42.2 respectively) and declined similarly in all groups over time. Rates of death from cancer were highest among Canadians of European origin (men 343.6, women 236.2), intermediate among those of Chinese origin (men 258.1, women 161.6) and lowest among those of south Asian origin (men 122.3, women 131.3). Over time, cancer mortality increased in Canadians of European origin but remained constant or declined in those of south Asian and Chinese origin. INTERPRETATION: Substantial differences exist in rates of death from ischemic heart disease and cancer among European, south Asian and Chinese Canadians.
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