For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                                                     Contact: Liz Voyles,                   February 4, 2016                                                                                                                                                       , 202-297-9641                                                      


Research Reveals Variations, Progress Among America’s Big Cities on Heart Disease and Cancer Mortality

Release of Data Coincides with World Cancer Day and Wear Red Day for Women’s Heart Disease

Washington, D.C. – Data released today highlight that cancer and women’s heart disease mortality (or death) rates continue to vary widely depending on where you live, but generally, cities have shown great progress on cutting death rates over the last decade. Indeed, all 14  big cities highlighted here  have lowered mortality rates for both conditions. These data  are being released by the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), an independent project of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), to mark World Cancer Day (February 4th) and Wear Red for Heart Disease Day (February 5th).

The data are found in the Big Cities Health Inventory (BCHI) platform, a new open source database that provides indicators on the public health status of America’s largest cities including: Atlanta (Fulton, County), GA; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas (Clark County), NV; Miami (Miami-Dade County), FL; Minneapolis, MN; New York City, NY; Phoenix, AZ; Sacramento, CA; San Antonio, TX; San Jose (Santa Clara County), CA; and Seattle, WA. The data are from 2013, the most recent year with comparable data available for a number of BCHC member cities.  


·       Every city has lower death rates for both conditions, compared to a decade ago. Every city experienced a decrease in their cancer and women’s heart disease mortality rates, compared to 2004.

·       Cancer death rates in the big cities are roughly in line with the rest of the country. Eight of the 14 cities have cancer mortality rates lower than the 2013 U.S. death rate, while six have a higher rate.

·       Heart disease death rates for women are similar to the rest of the country. Seven of the 14 cities have a higher heart disease mortality rate among women than the 2013 U.S. rate, while seven have a lower rate.

“World Cancer Day and Wear Red Day both serve as a time to take stock of two of our most important public health challenges,” said Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Director of the BCHC.  “These data demonstrate that when it comes to cancer and women’s heart disease deaths, many cities are making progress, but death rates still vary. Public health departments in America’s big cities are leading innovative initiatives to improve health outcomes and decrease disparities every day. They need sufficient funding as they fight against diseases like cancer and heart disease, which still claim too many lives in America.”

When comparing cities to each other and to the nation, it should be noted that there are a number of factors that affect mortality rates, including poverty rates, population age, demographics, and other factors. The BCHI platform offers data on these indicators to enable users to find greater context about why health disparities may exist.

The new BCHI data platform makes more than 12,000 data points on public health in 26 cities free and openly available to the public to support research and data-driven program and policy development. The data platform can be found at

The data set is the first of its kind to provide a broad, comparable view of health indicators in 26 cities. It includes more than 30 health indicators that encompass nine broad categories of public health importance: HIV/AIDs; cancer; food safety; infectious disease; maternal and child health; tobacco; nutrition, physical activity, and obesity; injury and violence; and behavioral health and substance abuse. Additional sociodemographic measures provide contextual information on poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, household income, place of birth, life expectancy, and all-cause mortality.

Funding for the data platform comes primarily from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through Cooperative Agreement 5U38OT000172-03. Additional programmatic support for the Coalition is made possible through funding from the de Beaumont Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact more than 5 million people, or one in six Americans. The Big Cities Health Coalition is an independent project of the National Association of City and County Health Officials. For more information, please visit