Do you know a lot of people with lung cancer? Children with Autism? People with Asthma? For the United States, the CDC has state-by-state information on most of the common diseases. Do you know where your state falls in the statistics?
I analyzed the data (because I’m a geek, and I like this kind of stuff!). 🙂 I made a spreadsheet, with the states going down the left, and the diseases going across the top. I gave the rates of disease a number score (based on low, mild, moderate or high instances), added up the total for each state, and divided it by the # of diseases I had data for. So, I gave each state a score–to show how low or high your total chance of disease is in each state. Want to know what I found?
First, the diseases I studied: Arthritis, Fatal Strokes, Asthma, Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, Ovarian Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Thyroid Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Skin Cancer, Colon and Rectal Cancers, Cervical Cancer, Brain and Nervous System Cancers, Corpus and Uterus Cancers, Esophageal Cancer, Breast Cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Kidney and Renal Cancers, Leukemia, Liver Cancer, and Lung Cancer. Note that I could not find any clear state-by-state data about the rate of heart disease. I would love to have this information, so if you know where I can find it, please share! 🙂
The top 20 states to live in (if you want to be disease free), according to my data (best to worst):
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
The bottom 20 states to live in (if you want diseases!), according to my data (worst to best):
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
- New York
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
It’s not as cut and dry as it seems though. It really depends what diseases you are most afraid of. 😉 In Arizona, there is a low chance of most cancers–except, there is a moderate risk of Thyroid Cancer. In Montana, there is a low to mild risk of most diseases–except there is a moderate risk of fatal strokes, and a moderate risk of Leukemia. California and New Mexico are on the top 20 list, however, these two states have high rates of Liver Cancer.
The bottom states on my list aren’t necessarily all bad, either. In Rhode Island and New Jersey, there is a high risk of most types of cancer, but a low chance of a fatal stroke. Oklahoma is high in many things, but you won’t find many people with Autism or Thyroid Cancer there.
There are many variables that impact this data. The environment may be an issue–are there more molds in the air, is there more sun exposure, how close is the state to the equator, etc. And what kinds of factories are present? And how much pollution is there? And how prevalent is alcoholism? And, since this is a blog about food, what kinds of food are these people eating? There are a lot of factors to consider.
If you want to see the CDC maps for yourself, look here:
Where do you live?
Where do you want to move, after reading this? 🙂
photo credit: archibald jude