Jerusalem Has Lowest Cancer Rates in Israel

Jerusalemites' cancer morbidity 17% lower than national average; Judea-Samaria also among the healthiest places to live in Israel.

Tova Dvorin ,


Jerusalem boasts the lowest cancer rates in Israel, the Ministry of Health declared Monday, based on ten years of data collected nationwide. 

The Ministry released a summary of data collected regarding cancer diagnoses, by gender and by city, between 2001-2011. The study had been conducted in conjunction with the Israeli Cancer Association.

From 2001 to 2005, the cancer diagnosis rate among men in Jerusalem consistently fell at about 17% below the national average, the Ministry said, and 10% below average from 2006-2011. Jerusalemite women also were significantly less likely to have been diagnosed with cancer in the Holy City. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Haifa and Akko (Acre) residents were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than Israelis living anywhere else in the country, data revealed. Haifa topped the list from 2001-2005, with cancer rates at 10% higher than average; from 2006-2011, cancer rates rose to 15% higher than average in Haifa, and were 16% in Akko. Women, in particular, were noted to have been at higher risk for cancer; they were 11% more likely to be diagnosed with the set of diseases than other women living elsewhere from 2001-2005 and 15% more likely from 2006-2011. 

The Ministry of Health quickly stated that they have not attributed blame to a specific factor in Haifa's high cancer rates. The Ministry also deflected concerns raised that the morbidity rate may be high due to high levels of air pollution, although it did acknowledge that it will conduct a separate study to asses the risks. 

"Only a dedicated and analytical study, which would collect data on many factors at the individual level, would be able to address more clearly the differences in morbidity between districts," the Ministry stated Monday. "Such a study is planned within the framework of a survey conducted for the purpose of expanding the facility in the Haifa refineries."

Between the extremes, the healthiest districts in Israel included Judea and Samaria (15% lower than national average); Ramle and Ramat Hasharon (close ties with Jerusalem, Judea-Samaria); and the Petah Tikva, Rehovot, and Sharon areas, which each boasted cancer rates 5% lower than the national average. 

Less healthy districts included the Hadera region, at 7% higher than average; Be'er Sheva, 6%; Safed, 5%; and Tel Aviv, 2%. 

"The data is highly descriptive," said the Ministry of Health, who also warned that it only went so far.

"We cannot draw a direct link between environmental pollution and cancer," it continued. "From the findings, we see that there are factors here for which we cannot account, such as occupational hazards, the health level or daily lives of individuals [e.g. smoking or submitting to early screenings for cancer], and personal risk factors, such as genetics."

Data on cancer morbidity emerges several months after it was named to be the leading cause of death in Israel.