Volume 7 - Article 5 | Pages 271–306  

The Cancer Transition in Japan since 1951

By Omer Gersten, John R. Wilmoth


The overall trend of cancer mortality in Japan has been decreasing since the 1960s (age-standardized death rates for ages 30-69), though trends differ enormously among various forms of the disease. Cancer mortality was heavily influenced by Japanese postwar economic recovery, which led to improved living conditions and better control of infectious agents known to cause some common forms of cancer (stomach, cervical). However, Japanese wealth and development have also been associated with risky personal behaviors (smoking, drinking) and other conditions, leading to increases in cancers with no known or else very weak links to infection.
This shift away from infectious and toward non-infectious causes of prevalent forms of cancers is called the "cancer transition," by analogy to Omran's "epidemiologic transition." We suggest that the cancer transition described here in the case of Japan must be a part of efforts to revise and update the epidemiologic transition, which should incorporate new knowledge about the role of infection in chronic disease morbidity and mortality.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

On the relationship between period and cohort mortality
Volume 13 - Article 11

Introduction to the Special Collection “Human Mortality over Age, Time, Sex, and Place: The 1st HMD Symposium”
Volume 13 - Article 10

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Two-dimensional contour decomposition: Decomposing mortality differences into initial difference and trend components by age and cause of death
Volume 50 - Article 41    | Keywords: decomposition methods, mortality

International completeness of death registration
Volume 50 - Article 38    | Keywords: data collection, death, mortality, statistics, sustainable development goals, vital registration

The effect of migration and time spent abroad on migrants’ health: A home/host country perspective
Volume 50 - Article 37    | Keywords: Albania, health, Italy, migrants, propensity score

Incorporating subjective survival information in mortality and change in health status predictions: A Bayesian approach
Volume 50 - Article 36    | Keywords: Bayesian demography, health, mortality, self report, subjective mortality probabilities

Standardized mean age at death (MADstd): Exploring its potentials as a measure of human longevity
Volume 50 - Article 30    | Keywords: formal demography, life expectancy, mean age at death, mortality, standardization