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Aging and Cancer Mortality: Dynamics of Change and Sex Differences


Yang, Yang Claire; Li, Ting; & Nielsen, Matthew E. (2012). Aging and Cancer Mortality: Dynamics of Change and Sex Differences. Experimental Gerontology, 47(9), 695-705. PMCID: PMC3418386


Age-related changes in cancer mortality risk are important for understanding the processes of disease and aging interaction. The extent to which these age changes differ by sex further contributes to this understanding but has not been well studied to date. We conducted a systematic examination of dynamics and heterogeneity of age changes in cancer mortality rates for the top 14 cancer sites using vital statistics from the NCHS and SEER between 1969 and 2007. We assessed patterns of age changes in site-specific mortality rates in terms of both increase (age slope) and acceleration (change in age slope) as measured by the log–log acceleration rate (LLA). We assessed sex differences in mortality rates through sex mortality rate ratios and sex differences in age changes through comparisons of the LLA by sex. The logged male-to-female mortality ratios are positive but vary substantially with age in magnitude. And the age patterns of sex ratios also vary across sites. The LLA values show similar declines and hence slowdowns of mortality increment into or during old age for both sexes for most sites and periods. Post-reproductive changes in sex differences in cancer mortality are not entirely consistent with the estrogenic hypothesis about the anticarcinogenic effects of sex hormones and suggest the utility of the multistage model of disease progression for some tumor sites. Analysis of age dynamics and sex differences in cancer mortality may modify extant aging-related theories of carcinogenesis and frame future searches for specific explanatory factors.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Experimental Gerontology


Yang, Yang Claire
Li, Ting
Nielsen, Matthew E.