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Did you know that the incidence of cancer in the United States has been declining for nearly 20 years? That the spread of pornography correlates with a decline in rape? That average IQs are going up substantially all around the world? These are just some of the truths that are well-known to the scholars who study those subjects but generally come as a surprise to even the best-educated among us.As reason reflects on how the world has changed since the magazine’s founding in May 1968, here are seven surprising pieces of unalloyed good news.Cancer Rates Are Going DownA 2007 American Cancer Society poll found that seven out of 10 Americans believed that the risk of dying from cancer is going up. In fact, not only have cancer death rates been declining steeply, age-adjusted cancer incidence rates have been falling for nearly two decades. That is, in nearly any age group, fewer Americans are actually coming down with cancer.Advances in modern medicine have increased the five-year survival rates of cancer patients from 50 percent in the 1970s to 68 percent today. That much you might expect. More surprising is that the incidence of cancer has been falling about 0.6 percent per year since 1994. That may not sound like much, but as John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, explains, “in recent years, about 100,000 people each year who would have died had cancer rates not declined are living to celebrate another birthday.”Why is cancer becoming more rare? Largely because fewer Americans are smoking, more are having colonoscopies in which polyps that might become cancerous are removed, and many women stopped hormone replacement therapy in the early 2000s, all behaviors that prevent the onset of cancer. Advances in genetic screening for cancer risks will further reduce cancer incidence as empowered patients take preventive actions like actress Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy, which reduced her lifetime risk of heritable breast cancer from around 90 percent to 5 percent. The news is not all good. Rising levels of obesity have been associated with increases in cancers of the kidneys, esophagus, pancreas, and elsewhere. But falling mortality and incidence rates do indicate real progress in the War on Cancer.Read the rest here.... http://reason.com/archives/2013/07/15/seven-surprising-truths-about-the-world