People In These States Are Most Likely to Die From Cancer

The unfortunate reality of cancer is that the disease strikes too close to home. Whether it’s you or a loved one, cancer wreaks havoc on nearly 1.6 million American lives every single year. And of that 1.6 million, 595,000 cancer diagnoses result in death. Furthermore, receiving a cancer diagnosis isn’t only devastating to a person’s health, but the financial impacts can be horrendous. In 2014 alone, the disease resulted in health care costs upwards of $87.8 billion.

Strangely enough, some states seem to be more prone to cancer and the deaths associated with the disease. What is known for sure is that the disease may sometimes be preventable with good health practices like not smoking and exercising regularly. According to America’s Health Rankings’ Annual Report for 2017, from bad to worse, these 15 states have the some of the poorest health rankings and the most cancer deaths of any other in the nation. 

15. Illinois

Springfield, Illinois

In Illinois, cancer is the leading cause of death. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 199.8

Cancer is the leading cause of death in the state of Illinois for adults between the ages of 45 to 64. While the state has plenty of room for improvements in the obesity and excessive drinking categories, it’s air pollution that may be the biggest culprit of poor health. In fact, just behind California, Illinois has the worst air pollution in the entire country. While the national average is 8.6 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter, Illinois is emitting 10.2.

Next: Will sweet tea and Southern charm keep you out of harm’s way? 

14. South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Lung and prostate cancer are common in South Carolina. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 201.3

The two most common cancer deaths in South Carolina is prostate cancer and lung cancer. The Annual Report highlights that 20% of the state are cigarette smokers, along with another 32.3% of the state falling into the obesity category. These numbers are terrible indicators of the overall health of the state.

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13. Michigan

Lansing, Michigan city

Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in Michigan. | Henryk Sadura/iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 201.5

In Michigan, the most common cancer of adults between the ages of 50 and 74 is lung cancer. As for adults under the age of 50, it’s breast cancer and cancer of the genitourinary organs that receive the most diagnoses. According to the data, 20% of the population excessively drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes. Furthermore, nearly 33% of the state is obese.

Next: The only New England state to make this list

12. Maine

Maine scenery

Most cancer in Maine is related to avoidable risk factors. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 205.7

In 2004, cancer hit the forefront as the leading cause of death in Maine. Currently, over 19% of the state smokes, nearly 30% is obese, and over 20% drink in excess. All these factors greatly contribute to the 75% to 85% of cancer cases in the state that all stem from risk factors that are totally avoidable.

Next: This Midwestern state may have a lot to offer, but it’s not good health.  

11. Ohio

east liverpool ohio

Lung and bronchus cancer are the leading causes of cancer deaths in Ohio. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 208.7

Nearly 23%of Ohioans smoke and over 31% are obese. According to the Ohio Annual Cancer Report of 2016, it comes as no coincidence that the leading causes of cancer deaths in the state are lung and bronchus cancers.

Next: Terrible air quality and lots of lung cancer

10. Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The leading cause of cancer deaths in Missouri is lung cancer. | tomofbluesprings/iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 209.0

Although air pollution in Missouri fell by 19%in 2017, excessive drinking has increased to 21%. Furthermore, the 22% of smokers must be a major contributing factor to lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer deaths in the state of Missouri.

Next: Over 13,000 residents of this state will receive a fatal diagnosis.

9. Indiana

Evansville, Indiana

More than 13,000 Indianans were expected to receive a fatal cancer diagnoses in 2014.| Mayor Lloyd Winnecke/Facebooa

  • Deaths per 100,000: 210.5

A third of the Indiana population is obese and one-fifth are smokers. Furthermore, the state’s Department of Health estimated that over 13,000 Indianans would receive a fatal cancer diagnosis in 2014 alone. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the state.

Next: This hospitable state doesn’t have much going for its health

8. Alabama

Welcome to Alabama road sign on US-84 near Gordon

More than 20% of the population of Alabama smokes. |

  • Deaths per 100,000: 210.6

Over 21% of the population smokes. So even though obesity is prevalent in the state at a jaw-dropping 35%, lung cancer takes the lead in Alabama for cancer deaths. The close runner-up in both male and female is colorectal cancer.

Next: The Volunteer state has an extremely high obesity rate

7. Tennessee

Gatlinburg Tennessee

Only 15% of people diagnosed with lung cancer in Tennessee survive. | Sean Pavone Photo/iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 216.5

Once again, it’s lung cancer that claims the most lives out of any other cancer in Tennessee. And for the survival rate, only 15% of those diagnosed make it out alive. Similarly to many other states, colorectal is the second most deadly cancer. When it comes to the overall health of the state, the numbers don’t look too great. Nearly 35% of the state is obese, followed by another 22% being smokers.

Next: Boomer Sooners and a whole lot of breast cancer

6. Oklahoma

oklahoma city

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Oklahoma women. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 216.9

The highest rate of diagnoses in women comes in the form of breast cancer in Oklahoma. As for men, it’s prostate cancer. But when it comes to deaths associated with the disease, it’s lung cancer that claims the most lives. Looking at the data, it’s no surprise that nearly 20% of the population smokes, and almost 33% are obese.

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5. Louisiana

Dusk falls over Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, 11 July 2006, almost one year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. For tourists strolling through the French Quarter it's easy to forget that Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans a year ago. The beignets are fresh, trinkets and designer clothes are artfully arranged in shop windows, and hurricanes are spinning in the bars on Bourbon Street. But while the music, food and good times have come back, the crowds have not and the city is struggling to make ends meet while its main industry remains crippled. With more than 10 million visitors a year, tourism was once a 5.5 billion dollar industry in New Orleans, accounting for 40 percent of the city's tax revenues and employing 85,000 people. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Louisiana ranks poorly in overall health. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 218.2

When it comes to overall health in the state, Louisiana ranks 49th. Almost 36% of the state is obese and nearly 23% smoke. Once again, there’s no surprise that lung cancer claims the most lives in the state, followed closely by breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.

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4. Arkansas

A welcome sign marks the state line between Arkansas and Oklahoma

Smoking is one reason for a high cancer death rate in Arkansas. | wellesenterprises/iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 219.5

Nearly a quarter of the population in Arkansas are smokers, so there’s no surprise that lung cancer still claims the most lives. Similarly to many other states, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer are the runners-up for fatal diagnoses. Even more startling, almost 36% of the state is obese.

Next: Do fried foods and cancer go hand-in-hand?

3. Mississippi

Welcome to Mississippi

Lung cancer claims more lives in Mississippi than any other cancer.| Meinzahn/iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 226.7

Following suit to the other states on this list, lung cancer is once again the culprit claiming the most lives out of any other cancer in Mississippi. And as many of you already know, the state has never been considered healthy. Over 37% of the population is obese. As for the smokers, nearly 23% partake in the bad habit.

Next: Drug-related deaths are only part of this state’s health problems.

2. West Virginia

charleston, west virginia

West Virginia’s overall health ranking is poor. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 226.9

West Virginia sees a lot of drug-related deaths. So much, the epidemic has recently made the national news. But when it comes to cancer deaths, it’s once again lung cancer. The state’s health rating isn’t good all-around. Nearly 38% of the state is obese, and a quarter of the population smokes. These figures are a recipe for a disaster.

Next: Is this your state? 

1. Kentucky

Kentucky residents have to be extra prepared for travel.

Kentucky has the highest cancer death rate in the U.S.| iStock/Getty Images

  • Deaths per 100,000: 233.6

Although Kentucky ranks 42nd in the country for its health rating, this state sees the most cancer deaths of any other state in the union. Nearly 35% of the state is obese, almost a quarter of the state’s population smokes, and to boot, 30% claim they are physically inactive. These factors combined help to land this state as the pack leader for cancer deaths.

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