Much like Clint Eastwood's characters, cancer has been getting dramatically less deadly in recent decades. Cancer deaths peaked in 1991 but had declined by 23 percent as of 2012, which translates to over 1.7 million Grim Reaper snubs. While some auxiliary cancer diagnoses are on the rise, actual deaths are down, especially in regards to the big four: breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal (yeah, a lot of things can go wrong up your butt).
So why the big change? Surely not all of that can be chalked up to the prolonged absence of the McRib. The boring answer: all those awareness campaigns and research fundraisers worked. Colorectal cancer deaths are on a 50 percent downswing due to a societal shift towards vigilant rectal care -- more men and women seeking colonoscopies, which can nip pre-cancerous polyps (literally) in the bud. Prostate cancer deaths, meanwhile, have dropped in half partially due to less stringent testing protocols, with many doctors ditching the types of tests that have a propensity for over-diagnosing friendly, transitory cancers that are best left to their own devices.
"See, your cancer really is a nice guy once you give him a chance."
Ovarian cancer deaths are also in decline -- 10 percent in Europe and 16 percent stateside -- and will continue to drop, due to increased contraceptive use. Breast cancer: 36 percent fewer deaths since their 1989 zenith, thanks to improved detection and treatment methods. Lung cancer: 38 percent decrease in deaths for men, because those gross pictures on cigarette boxes are doing their goddamn job. Not a bad haul for the fattest, slobbiest version of humankind to ever exist.