NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Newly released data shows that New Mexico has one of the lowest per capita rates of cancer in the nation. The state ranks low both in terms of new incidences of cancer and in cancer deaths.

Across the nation, cancer is the second most common cause of death, ranking just behind heart disease. One out of every five deaths in the U.S. is caused by cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, in New Mexico, the rate of locals being diagnosed with cancer falls far below the national average. The latest data from 2020 shows that out of 100,000 people, about 332 New Mexicans were diagnosed with cancer. The national average rate is closer to 403 people per 100,000.

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In New Mexico, the most common cancer diagnosis was for female breast cancer. Prostate cancer was the second most common diagnosis.

Generally, western states have lower rates of new cancer diagnoses, the data reveals. As for why New Mexico ranks particularly low, experts are not entirely sure what makes New Mexico unique. New Mexico has historically ranked low in terms of cancer, and the New Mexico Department of Health notes that genetics and diet may play a role.