Nightly News   |  January 04, 2012

Cancer death rates decline

The American Cancer Society’s annual report on cancer statistics has some encouraging news. NBC Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman joins Brian Williams with more.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the american cancer society 's annual report on cancer stats and cancer trends is out today with some encouraging news inside it. for the biggest cancer killers, death rates are down across the board over the past two decades. 23% for men. 16% for women. that works out to about 1 million lives saved since researchers started counting in the early '90s. with us to talk more about it, our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman . we were talking about this earlier. you could take away from the figures that the stop smoking effort is going to have to yield to the obesity effort, that it's obesity that's killing us.

>> there is a mixed message here. if you look at the big three -- breast, lung and colon -- there is good news. numbers have dropped. men have gotten the message. cigarettes will kill you. that's why we have seen the big drops in lung cancer and to some degree heart disease . look at the cancers now getting our attention. throat cancer linked to the hpv virus . esophageal and pancreatic cancer , definitely obesity related and thyroid cancer , probably in women, because more doctors are doing portable ultrasound screenings. i think we are finding more of these cancers.

>> detection.

>> here's what i predict. obesity increasingly is going to be linked to cancers. i think we are going to solve many more cancer treatments at a very basic cellular level when we figure out this obesity epidem epidemic. we'll talk about fat being a killer because it increases your risk of cancer head to toe .

>> that's a dark mark amidst otherwise good news in this.