The Highest Cancer Rates In The State Have Been Found In This Alaskan City

The Highest Cancer Rates In The State Have Been Found In This Alaskan City

The largest and most populated city in Alaska, Anchorage, holds the key to the solution. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services data for the years 2016–2020 showed that Anchorage had an age-adjusted cancer incidence rate of 469.8 cases per 100,000 people. This rate was higher than the national average as well as higher than that of other Alaskan census regions and boroughs.

The City with the Highest Cancer Rates in Anchorage

Lung and bronchus, colon and rectum, breast (female), prostate (male), bladder, kidney and renal pelvis, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and skin melanoma were among the cancer types for which Anchorage reported higher than average rates. With a rate of 67.9 occurrences per 100,000 people, lung and bronchus cancer stood out among them, followed by colon and rectal cancer with 49.5 instances per 100,000 people.

These higher-than-average cancer rates in Anchorage could be caused by a wide range of possible variables. These variables include behavioral, genetic, environmental, and socioeconomic components, such as:

Air pollution: Because Anchorage is situated in a valley encircled by mountains, it is susceptible to air pollution from a variety of causes, including industry, wildfires, and moving cars. Lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses may become more likely as a result of this increased air pollution level.

Smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for developing lung cancer as well as a number of other cancers. In 2019, the smoking prevalence among adults in Alaska was 19%, which was higher than the 14% national average. In terms of adult smoking prevalence, Anchorage recorded a rate of 18% in 2018, which was higher than the national average but marginally below the state average.

Obesity: Being obese increases the risk of developing several malignancies, such as those of the colon and rectum, the female breast, the endometrium, the kidney, and the pancreas. Alaska’s adult obesity prevalence in 2019 was 31%, higher than the 30% national average. In 2018, the adult obesity prevalence in Anchorage was 29%, which was more than the national rate but still below the state norm.

Alcohol Use: Drinking alcohol increases the chance of developing malignancies of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast, and colon. In 2019, the percentage of adults in Alaska who drank alcohol was 19%, higher than the 18% national average. In 2018, the percentage of adults in Anchorage who drank alcohol was 20%, higher than the state and national averages.

Sun Exposure: Melanoma and other skin cancers might be made more likely by prolonged sun exposure. Alaska’s summertime daylight hours are long, which may result in residents spending more time in the sun. With 18.1 instances per 100,000 people in 2016–2020, Anchorage has a higher-than-average rate of cutaneous melanoma, above both state and national averages.

Race/Ethnicity: Due to genetic differences and cultural customs, race and ethnicity can affect cancer risk. The demographics of Anchorage’s population in 2020 were as follows: 66% of the city’s population was non-Hispanic White, 9% was Black or African American, 8% was Asian, 7% was American Indian and Alaska Native, 10% was Hispanic or Latino (of any race), and 10% was Two or more races (non-Hispanic). The incidence of particular cancer forms may differ throughout racial and ethnic groupings.


In conclusion, despite its reputation for opportunities and attractions, Anchorage has higher cancer rates than other Alaskan and American towns. Different cancer types may be affected differentially by the interaction of multiple variables, including sun exposure, alcohol use, smoking, obesity, air pollution, and race/ethnicity.

To lower their risk of cancer and improve their general health and well-being, Anchorage residents must be aware of their cancer risk and take preventive measures. These include abstaining from tobacco use, keeping a healthy weight, consuming less alcohol, protecting their skin from the sun, and getting regular cancer screenings.

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